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HRAWI demands 50% waiver in excise license fee for Maharashtra’s hospitality industry, ET TravelWorld News, ET TravelWorld

 Picture used for representational purposes only.
Picture used for representational purposes only.

Citing interrupted operations for 11 out of 12 months in FY2021-22, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has demanded 50 per cent waiver in excise licence fee for the hospitality industry in Maharashtra. The association writing to the state government with the request has pointed out that of the twelve months, hotels and restaurants in the state were allowed to operate without any interruptions to business for only one month.

With restrictions of varying extent and nature imposed by the Disaster Management Authority on the license holders, hotels, and restaurants in only 14 districts out of the 36 could fully operate and that too just for twenty-eight days between 1 April 2021 and March 31, 2022. The remaining 22 districts across the state continue to operate with restrictions even today, said HRAWI in a statement.

HRAWI has also stated that while many other sectors have been offered relief in stamp duty and tax benefits, no relief has been extended to the hotel and restaurant industry which is one of the pandemic’s worst-hit sectors.

In a statement, the association also welcomed the state government’s move to allow restaurants to operate at 100 per cent capacity. Restaurants in fourteen districts including Mumbai will go back to operating at 100 per cent capacity. HRAWI has asked to restore normal timings as well as allow all hotels and restaurants to operate at 100 per cent capacity across all the districts in the state.

“Maharashtra has around 10,500 hotels and 210,000 restaurants and over the last 24 months around 3,000 hotels and 60,000 restaurants have permanently shut down. Around 50 lakh employees, roughly 40 per cent directly engaged in the industry in the state lost their jobs. During the lockdown period, Maharashtra’s hospitality industry has suffered a revenue loss of approximately INR 5,000 crore monthly. All this was a consequence of the severe nature of restrictions imposed on the industry. We have presented a detailed chart to the state government on the extent and nature of restrictions that were imposed by the Disaster Management Authority on license holders. It clearly shows that out of the 365 days in that year, we had only 28 fully operational days until March 31, 2022. Also, the 28 days were applicable to only 14 districts out of 36 districts in the state. As things stand, it is only fair that the government waives off 50 per cent of the Excise Licence Fee for that FY,” stated Sherry Bhatia, President, HRAWI.Whereas, HRAWI has welcomed the state government for partially rolling back the increase in the excise fees for the FY 2022-23. The relief of 7.5 per cent of the previously notified fee has come as a huge relief to the restaurant and hotel industry, the Association has stated.

“We thank the government for the partial rollback in the increase in the fee for the coming financial year but the fact remains that the industry has suffered massive losses over the last two years. The rollback is definitely welcome, but the industry needs a lot more than a 7.5 per cent relief on the previously notified fee. Most industries in the state have been offered relief in stamp duty and tax benefits but the hospitality industry is being hung out to dry,” mentioned Pradeep Shetty, Senior Vice President, HRAWI.

“Significant capital has been ploughed in by the industry to reopen and restart operations and is continuing to make efforts to bring back workers. Moreover, inflation caused due to the hike in petroleum prices as well as the general increase in all raw materials of up to 40 per cent, has put owners in a very difficult situation. Hence, we request the Maharashtra government to either offer a uniform waiver of 50 per cent or charge license fees for the FY 2021-22 to the extent of duration during which establishments were allowed to operate,” Shetty added.

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