Britain to protect Asian traders in fight against recessionNovember 12th, 2008 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS
London, Nov 12 (IANS) Asian traders who generate billions of pounds of business are key to seeing Britain through the current financial crisis and will be protected from racist elements and criminals, a senior British Minister has pledged.“The services you provide are both essential to our local communities as well as a source of strength to our national economy,” Business and Enterprise Minister Lord Peter Mandelson said.
“The 280,000 ethnic minority small and medium size businesses in our country generate around 20 billion pounds in our economy every year,” he told a large gathering of Asian and other retailers at a dinner Tuesday night.
Mandelson, addressing more than 1,000 businessmen and women at the Asian Trader Award ceremony held annually by the Asian Trader magazine, pledged to protect Asian-run businesses from racial abuse.
“I hope the negative actions of a small minority do not in any way diminish the high level of respect and appreciation that the public has for you. The jobs and wealth you create are key to our economic resilience at any time, but especially during these tougher times that our economy faces now,” Mandelson declared.
“You have the right to carry on your business without fear of attack. I want to reiterate this government’s strong commitment to tackle hate crime, harassment in all its forms, providing support for victims and to witnesses, increasing your confidence in the system and in ensuring that those who perpetuate these crimes are promptly brought to justice. That is my undertaking to you tonight,” he said.
He was responding to comments by Asian Trader Managing Editor Kalpesh Solanki, who said Asian retailers have become “soft targets for criminals.”
“Retailers are being attacked with weapons and killed in the line of duty,” Solanki told the audience that included India’s High Commissioner Shiv Shankar Mukherjee, Employment Minister Tony McNulty and Asian Trader owner Ramniklal Solanki.
Mandelson also promised government intervention to keep the British banking system open to small and medium businesses so that they can access loans and offered service advice and training to help business grow.
He said the government had made available 350 million pounds to help build the skills of employees, “with minimum bureaucracy or delay” and pledged support to the establishment of an Asian Trader Institute to be set up by the magazine - a resource and training centre covering all aspects of the independent retail sector.