“The government should waive the bar license fee, guarantee interest-free loans to the hotel industry” | Chandigarh News

The city’s hotel and restaurant industry is going through a difficult time as it was forced to be closed for more than two months. Ludhiana Hotel and Restaurant Association President Amarveer Singh spoke with Mohit Behl about issues related to the hotel industry and challenges faced by entrepreneurs.
What is the current situation of the hotel and restaurant industry in the state and in particular in Ludhiana?
Up to 1,360 hotels and restaurants are registered as members in our state body and, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 30% have permanently closed their operations because they could not bear further losses. In addition to this, there are almost the same number of people who are on the verge of closing. In Ludhiana, the situation is more difficult: except in our city, banquets for 50 guests have been allowed in all parts of the Punjab. In Ludhiana, only community centers can organize parties, not hotels and restaurants. If this ban is not lifted, there will soon be more closures and more jobs lost, as several hospitality units will go bankrupt.
Furthermore, the state government has yet to allow dining service in hotels and restaurants, while even Covid-19 hotspots such as Delhi are allowing the hospitality industry to initiate dining services. It is a mystery why our government is not ready to allow this, particularly when each member has spent money training staff and obtaining security equipment.
What are the main problems facing the hotel and restaurant industry?
The main component of our industry expenses is our spower bills and already the energy tariff in Punjab is among the highest. Hotels and restaurants are assigned only business connections under which between Rs 12 and Rs 13 are charged per unit, which means bills worth thousands of rupees every month, even if our unit is closed. So during the lockdown period of almost two and a half months, we have been billed a considerable amount that we are unable to pay as we did not earn a penny during this period. We are not receiving help from the government to combat this situation. In some states, the government has waived bills for three to six months.
Regardless of our repeated requests, the state government has not complied with our demand to grant concessions on the annual bar fees, which are Rs. 4.70 lakh. We have been charged the full fees for the year for the bar license, where for almost three months we were unable to operate. But in some states, the hospitality industry has received a waiver of up to six months from bar license fees.
As a result of the change in business conditions, what is your greatest demand?
The current situation is such that hotels and restaurants around the world suffer the most from the Covid-19 outbreak. Unbearable losses have already been incurred and the situation is unlikely to change for at least a year or so, until a safe remedy for ovid-19 is found. If we compare our industry with our counterparts in other countries, their governments have been very quick to act. They have already provided financial aid of up to several billion rupees to the hotel industry so that they can at least pay staff salaries and manage other expenses. Some countries have even introduced interest-free loans for a minimum repayment period of three years. But sadly, when it comes to India, governments have not taken the hand, either in the Center or in the state. It is our plea to governments that if they cannot provide any financial assistance at least they can provide easy interest free loans to the hotel industry. In addition to this, energy rates must be lowered for us or our connections must be converted to small power (SP) connections under which energy rates are charged at Rs 5-7 per unit. Bar license fees for at least a quarter should be dropped.


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