Dear Finance Minister - Support Architecture Design and Allied Services.

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Honourable Nirmala Sitharaman,
Minister of Finance, India,

We are small business owners and integral part of the Construction Industry (like Architects, Interiors Designers, Product/Furniture/Industrial/Landscape Designers and Allied Fields like MEP Consultants/ Structural Consultants / Design Consultants) with team sizes less than 25 members.

We are the ones who are probably the largest indirect employers of the unorganised sector who needs the most help in these trying times and We are largely a sector who doesn’t work with borrowed capital to run their business.

To control the Corona Virus Pandemic, Government of India has declared #STAYHOME, a complete lockdown/ curfew till 15th April & are requesting all of us to keep our offices, Shops & Factories closed till then or for even longer. You are also urging us to show solidarity towards our employees and pay everyone without any deductions/leaves.

While we express total and complete solidarity with you in this move and support this endeavour wholeheartedly, there are a few challenges and expectations that we have outlined for your kind consideration

CHALLENGES

Tangibiles

1) Salaries - this is being requested to be paid despite no work being carried out.
2) Utility bills
3) Taxes
4) Interest on home and business premises loans
5) rentals for business premises - despite non use of premises during this period

Intangibles

1) Recovery of existing payments - clients may use this as an excuse to delay / refuse payments
2) Stoppage of existing projects - due to erosion of financial Capital -project boundaries may need to be redefined.
3) Lack of new projects/ new work - this being a service industry - this would be one of the last to recover from any form of recession.

WAY FORWARD

You have recently announced an Economic Relief Package that would benefit many poor and underprivileged section. Through this petition we urge you to also announce a relief package for the architecture, design and allied services, which are also badly hit due to lockdown.

EXPECTATIONS

As business owners, the intangibles are completely our responsibility but these are harder for us to overcome in these times of difficulty due to the tangible issues outlined above. We absolutely agree that the nation must combine and we are ready to stand with you to take whatever steps that may mean – staying at home, providing employees with a steady income, etc till whenever needed and hence we are outlining below a few suggestions for your consideration to be included as points towards your Economic Relief Package.

1) Relief from payment of rent being paid to individual property owners - upto 75% of the rent can be paid by the government as per official rental agreement records
2) Relief from Payment of utility bills for the period of the enforced lockdown and 50% for a period of 3 months post opening up.
3) Reimbursement of salaries paid by an employer to employees for 3/6 months beyond the enforced lockdown. This can be verified as per the last 3 years recorded IT statements already in your possession. Following the examples of similar European packages, GoI can reimburse upto 80% of the salaries to the employers after verifying necessary data.
4) Moratorium on payment of EMI’s to the bank for a period of 6 months beyond the opening up of business.
5) Employees share of PF to be paid by the Government for a period of the lockdown + 6 months from the date of opening up.

We the professionals are important bricks of the wall that form the industry as a whole. It is imperative for our businesses to move forward in order to use the services of the other sectors that have been offered economic relieve packages by the government,

We hereby request you, the leaders of the country, to think of the professionals, the small and medium business owners and the entrepreneurs who put their blood and sweat into making this country tick by providing services to large corporations and by employing the unorganised sector of workers and ensure they are mentioned in your economic packages.

Yours Truly,

Petition initiated by
Kunal Khandelwal
Huzefa Rangwala
Salil Ranadive

Published by
Rajesh Advani

and supported by all signatories.