Struggling hospitality industry seeks waiver of statutory charges

Representatives write to Chief Minister

Representatives of hotels and restaurants as well as traders have written to the Delhi government requesting for relief to their sector in view of the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on them.

While hotels and restaurants have asked for a waiver of statutory charges, traders have asked that they be allowed to resume normal operational timings as the number of daily cases have shown a downward trend.

They have sought a waiver of statutory charges.

The owners said that the current restrictions are akin to a lockdown and that business is less than 10% in all major locations. They said that the situation will manifold the extensive damages the sector had to face due to the previous lockdowns. It will take nothing less than five years for the industry to return to the pre-pandemic levels, they said.

Stop-start-stop system

“Frequent lockdowns and restrictions coupled with travel restrictions have resulted in the industry experiencing the worst phase. Every time the situation eases a bit, there seems to be some hope of getting the business back on track. But, the stop-start-stop arrangement hasn’t allowed the hotel industry to have a continuous run,” said G.S Kohli, vice-president of the Federation of Hotels and Restaurants in India (FHRAI) in a letter to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

He asked the CM for a waiver of statutory payments such as property tax, water charges, electricity charges and excise licence fee of the hospitality establishments for a minimum period of one year to help out the highly capital-intensive industry, manage a lot of overhead expenses even while it is not functioning.

Layoffs and pay cuts

Mr. Kohli said that significant capital has been ploughed in by the industry to reopen and restart operations but it is now staring at another round of layoffs and pay cuts that will leave the industry without trained manpower to work in the sector as a large number of them have shifted to other sectors for want of job security.

Meanwhile, traders have demanded the withdrawal of the odd-even opening system of shops as well as the weekend curfew as COVID-19 numbers are declining in the city. In a representation to Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal and to Mr. Kejriwal, the New Delhi Traders’ Association (NDTA) said that while shops are being allowed to open on alternate days, their expenses amount to the entire month which is not helping their already struggling business.

Atul Bhargava of the NDTA said that that crowd management is the key to ensuring safety during the pandemic and not closure of trade. “Let us work to survive and support numerous families who depend on our shops and restaurants,” he said.

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