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Excise dept waives off liquor licence fee for first quarter

June 11, 2020 05:22 AM

COURTESY HT JUNE 11

Excise dept waives off liquor licence fee for first quarter
BACK ON THEIR FEET: Move is aimed at providing relief to hospitality sector as they have suffered huge losses due to lockdown

Leena Dhankhar

leena.dhankhar@htlive.com

Gurugram : The excise and taxation department has decided to waive off liquor licence fee for restaurants and bars operating in the district for the current quarter, officials said on Wednesday. The restaurants and bars have been shut since March 25, when a lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19 was first imposed. Although restaurants can reopen now with 50% capacity, bars remain shut.

Anurag Rastogi, principal secretary, excise and taxation, said, “We have decided to waive licence fee for a quarter as these establishments were closed and suffered huge losses,” he said.

The Gurugram Restaurants’ Association had sought financial relief from the excise department last month. They had submitted applications for waiver of fee for bars for at least six months and sought permits to exchange expired beer without imposition of fee or goods and services tax.

Inderjeet Banga, the owner of Prankster and Pirates of Grill and the head of the Gurugram chapter of the National Restaurant Association of India, welcomed the decision. “We had demanded that the government should waive off liquor licence fee for the lockdown period and allow us to pay the licence fees monthly, instead of annually,” he said.

The department is yet to take a decision on a monthly licence fee structure, said officials.

The liquor license fee for a five-star hotel in the district is ₹25 lakh per annum, while it is ₹18 lakh per annum for bars and restaurants, and ₹10 lakh for microbreweries. It has to be paid in April, but the process was suspended due to the lockdown.

Pushpendra Yadav, director, Quaff microbrewery, said the move would provide some relief to the sector as they have suffered huge losses and many establishments would have been forced to shut, subsequently leading to large-scale unemployment, if relief was not provided. “We are relaxed after hearing the decision but still we have to prepare for the setups once the operations are restarted and we will have to follow all the guidelines to ensure social distancing. It will take time for to normalise,” he said.

Most restaurants in the city have not resumed the dine-in facility till now, fearing low footfall and increased losses. Some restaurants and bars in the district have already closed permanently due to the ongoing crisis, association members said.

Lalit Ahlawat, director of Soi Hospitality in CyberHub, said that they should be granted six months leeway to pay licence fees when the operations are in full swing. “The hospitality sector is already facing a catastrophic situation with revenues plunging drastically amid the Covid-19 outbreak. One quarter would not be enough and the department should waive off the licence fee for at least six months. The situation has been compounded due to the recent lockdown measures. To revive the economic situation, the government will have to support this industry as we have been one of the revenue-generating sectors,” he said.

Restaurant owners also said they will have to pay their staff in advance to call them back from their home state and the waiver should be extended for another quarter in such circumstances

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