Dealers unite to fight against the Corona Virus

Dear Dealer Friends,

I hope that you, your family and your entire staff are keeping safe during such trying times. The 2nd wave of the corona virus is widespread and proving to be more lethal. Even rural areas are badly affected by the virus this time. I am sure that the governments (Center as well as States) are doing their best to contain the spread. This time, instead of the Center, each State has announced its own lockdown depending on the size of Phase 2 wave they have been witnessing.

Infact, at the beginning of April’21 and seeing the rise in Covid cases, FADA had written to the Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi Ji requesting for gearing up the vaccination strategy on war footing and allowing inoculation of all above 25 years. FADA thanks the government for opening vaccination for all above 18 years; & hopes that soon vaccination trials will also begin for children aged between 2-18 years. As more and more people get vaccinated, fatalities due to the virus could be averted. In this regard, at the recently concluded 301st General Council meeting of the Federation, it was decided that FADA State Chapters would work with State governments to initiate vaccination drive at dealerships for the safety and well being of their employees and their immediate family members.

With deep sorrow, I share the untimely demise of two veterans and doyens of the Indian automobile fraternity viz Mr Jagdish Khattar & Mr Ramesh Suri due to Covid, each having contributed immensely for automobile industry. FADA offers its tribute. Mr Ramesh Suri, Past President FADA & Mr Khattar had remained closely associated with FADA all these years. I am hereby joined by the entire dealer community in offering our sincere prayers to the families of the departed souls.

Facing the reality and understanding the adverse financial impact, lockdowns would have on dealership business, FADA wrote to the Hon’ble Finance Minister & RBI requesting for urgent handholding and extension of support which it had announced during the 1st wave of covid during last year. To take this forward, we are following up with Finance Ministry to make them understand our plight so that the Government can come out with moratorium extension and a financial package for Auto Dealers in particular. It is no-doubt that by the time the 2nd wave comes to an end, many small family run enterprises may be forced to even close their shops.

To appraise Banking & Financial institutions about dealer concerns at this juncture and seeking out their support, FADA Officer Bearers are scheduling meetings with Bankers. As of now, we have already done same with Axis and YES Bank. We discussed various things and could make them understand our plight. As I write, almost all banks are writing to RBI for the issues which we have raised in terms of the upcoming tranche payment.

FADA also wrote to all the State Transport Secretaries & Transport Commissioners to allow workshops to operate for providing emergency services with maximum 50% staff. Further, since dealerships were functioning as deemed RTO’s, online registration of vehicles & renewal of licenses etc be permitted by keeping E Vahan portal operational, even though the showrooms were shut. I am happy to inform that these have found favorable considerations in a few states thus bringing huge relief to both customers and dealerships.

Not being defeated and forging ahead, FADA state chapters are working constructively with the State administration in battling the Covid. I proudly share with you that FADA Maharashtra raised Rs 1 Million to support state transport department by affixing GPS devices on 250 oxygen tankers enabling them to monitor the movement of the tankers on a single dashboard. For this, I place on record my appreciation for Mr Amar J Sheth, State Chairperson Maharashtra & his team which includes Mr Shailesh Bhandari, Mr Vishal Chordia, Mr Pritesh Shah, Mr Achal Gandhi, Mr Mansingh Pawar and Mr Paresh Shah for this noble and timely initiative.

Delhi State Chairperson, Ms Garima Misra along with Mr Ajay Agarwal, Mr Mukesh Sharma, Mr Gaurav Bhatia and Mr Kuldeep Singh have set-up Covid Action Group to share accurate covid related information amongst FADA members in Delhi and have tied up with Rico for its 60 bedded facility. FADA Delhi has also created a bank of oxygen concentrators for those who need the same. All these services are free of cost.

These are some initiatives that we are aware of. I am sure that there are many more initiatives which the dealerships are carrying out in their individual capacities within their local communities. For we do not just Sell the vehicles, We also care for our communities Safety & Well being too. I personally urge each one of you to inform FADA about the good deed, you are doing, so that the same can be recognised and appreciated.

Further, to keep the members connected and engaged, FADA West Bengal led by State Chairperson Mr Siddharth Bhandari and Past Chairperson Mr Amit Manaktala organised a webinar on New Labour Codes & HR Compliances for the benefit of FADA members to help them understand the implications of the new Labour codes. Over 75 dealer principals attended the webinar. Mr SK Jain was the speaker who is an authority in himself on the subject.

In continuing with the series of virtual meeting with State Council Members, FADA Office bearers met up with Odisha State Council members & Delhi State Council members to understand state specific and region specific issues. I appraised them about FADA’s new initiatives & lauded them for their efforts in driving membership in the state and taking timely corrective actions in addressing concerns of the members with regard to vehicle registration in the state.

Meanwhile, dealers in Maharashtra had been receiving notices from the department for non-payment of sales tax on RTO tax, registration charges and insurance premium charges. A writ was filed by Vidarbha dealers in the Nagpur High Court. The next date of hearing is sometime in June’21. FADA senior members are working with the legal counsel regarding the next steps.

To strengthen OEM - Dealer relationship, a meeting was held with BMW senior officials. We had suggested that all OEMs must work towards the promotion of retail in place of factory despatches for market share calculations, make OEM dealer agreements in India at par with dealer agreements across the globe and work for introduction of Franchisee Law in India. Our suggestions were well received and we were informed that BMW agreements were same across the globe with minor customisation as per the law of the land.

Coming to FADA, there are many initiatives that are being worked upon which are still in formulation stage. Once the details are formalised, I shall be sharing more. Meanwhile, FADA’s Dealer Satisfaction Survey’21 is already live and we are in receipt of overwhelming responses from the dealers. I thank our Secretary and Director – DSS’21, Mr C S Vigneshwar for leading from the front and garnering all the responses till date. Even though, we have achieved a good number, there are still many Dealer Friends, who are yet to take the Survey and to them I once again request to participate as, this Survey is By the Dealers, For the Dealers and From the Dealers. The survey results will help to cover the gaps in OEM- dealer relationship. The survey requires around 25 minutes of your time & the report thus generated will go a long way in addressing longstanding dealer concerns. Also, in case you are not able to complete it in one go, you may save it and complete it later. So, please participate and help to make your Federation’s initiative a true success.

I look forward to your suggestions and ideas for Strengthening FADA! Be safe and let’s pray that we come out of this 2nd wave ASAP and get rolling in doing what we do best i.e. sell vehicles!

Warm Regards,

Vinkesh Gulati