The hospitality industry, which is struggling to recover from the COVID-19 induced lockdown and economic slowdown, has urged the Maharashtra Government for an immediate rollback of the 15% hike in the excise license fee for 2022-23. The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) in its representation has strongly opposed the increase citing the unpredictable nature of restrictions and other measures that may come into effect, if and when another pandemic wave breaks out.
The Association also appealed to the state government to provide an extension of the deadline to pay the license fees for FY 2022-23 from March 31 to June 30, 2022. It has also requested the state government to provide a 50 per cent waiver on the existing fee for FY 2022-23.
“We are disappointed that the Government instead of helping us in our fight for survival has thought of burdening us by increasing the excise licence fee by another 15%. There is fear and anxiety in the hospitality sector due to the stop-start nature of repeated restrictions caused by the pandemic waves. Significant capital has been plowed in by the industry to reopen and restart operations and is continuing to make efforts to bring back workers,’’ said the Association President Sherry Bhatia.
He further stated that under these circumstances, let alone being in any capacity to bear an increase, it is impossible for FL3 license holders to pay license fees at all. ‘’We strongly oppose this increase and request that the decision to hike the fee be immediately withdrawn and the industry be given a 50 per cent waiver on the existing fee for FY 2022-23,” he added.
Bhatia said the industry has completely lost last year’s holiday season business and already in February 2022. ‘’Payment of the excise licence fee in another 30 days will be extremely difficult for a majority of the establishments. So, we request the Government that it provides us an extension on the cut-off date to pay the fees as well as give us a breather to pay the renewal fees in four installments,” he added.
As reported by the Free Press Journal, the fee hike ranges from Rs 66,500 (against Rs 57,750 in 2021-22) to Rs 7,97,000 (against Rs 6,93,000 in 2021-22) for restaurants and bars, depending on the population size. There are about 20,000 bars and restaurants in the state that will have to shell out more money. With this hike, the government expects to mop up an additional Rs 300 crore in revenue.