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India relaxes norms for retail sector

The Andhra Pradesh government of India has unveiled a new retail trade policy, under which retail enterprises are given greater flexibility in terms of open hours, engaging part-time employees, and removal of stock limits for essential commodities, among others. Touted to be the first-of-its-kind policy in the country to have attempted by any state, the policy also offers various incentives and the ease of doing business applicable to other sectors.

Under the policy, unveiled by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on the sidelines of the Confederation of Indian Industry Partnership Summit, retail enterprises can stay open seven days a week from 6 am to 11 pm. They can also employ people on an hourly basis, but the number of workers should not exceed 25 percent of the total employees of the firm. Retail chains will now be allowed to generate customer bills in an electronic form instead of giving them the physical bills.

The distribution centres and warehouses of the retail enterprises are not only allowed to function on a 24/7 basis, they are also declared "public utility" under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, to prevent strikes.