By SANDEEP SAHNI
Dehradun, 20 May: Due the COVID-19 crisis, the Hotel Industry does not see much hope in revival or even survival in the immediate or distant future. Revival without the Government having to handhold the industry for a period of 6-12 months with various relief measures is quite difficult in the Pandemic scenario.
In case the government fails to handhold now, a majority of Hotels and Restaurants may find it extremely difficult to even open and operate for a long time. This will result in mass unemployment in the hospitality industry.
These handholding measures would include – Stimulus by way of Zero/ Interest Free Loans to cover the existing borrowing liabilities of the establishment. The government needs to provide Zero Interest stimulus with moratorium of 12 months for tenure of 3-5 years to cover existing borrowing liabilities for the establishments. The Government can even look at providing a subsidy by making amendments in the current Tourism/ Industrial Policy for Uttarakhand.
Also, making available working capital to cover salary expenses for the establishments is necessary. If hotels survive, so will the employees and the employers. Required is extension of validity of all State/Municipal Licences and NOCs for Establishments and waiver of charges for a period of 12 months, w.e.f. 1st April 2020 to 31st March 2021, considering that the current Financial Year will be zero year for business, taking into account the very seasonal nature of business in the hill state.
It is also suggested that there be increase in validity of FSSAI licence – 12 months; increase in validity of Excise and Bar licence for 12 months, without any additional fee for the current Financial Year. In case already renewed and paid, the amount should be adjusted in the subsequent year. The validity of existing Hotel Licence should also be increased by one year without any additional fee. The scheme to register for Consent to Operate by UEPPCB should be extended by 6 months, along with extension of mandatory requirement for STP and Consent by 12 months. For establishments with Valid Consent To Operate by UEPPCB in the previous Financial Year 2019-20, the validity of the existing consent may be automatically extended by 12 months without any additional charges.
House Tax and Sewage tax should not be charged for 6 months – April 2020 to September 2020. Thereafter, the deferment of charges for the next 6 months may be allowed. There should be no minimum charges for water tax and electricity, the same to be taxed on actual consumption basis.
There also need to be relaxed guidelines/protocols for establishments with ease of opening and running once the government allows them to open. The Government should not set any pre-condition that cannot be met by the hotelier when he opens his establishment. Protocols and punitive measures for quarantine should be eased and not be harsh and detrimental to the industry at large.
It is important to note that without any tourism, lots of associated occupations like transporters, coolies, shop keepers, boatmen, etc., are struggling for their livelihood.
The industry is expecting a lot more from, both, the centre and the state governments but, till date, very little has come. FHRAI has said 70 % of the industry will collapse in the next few weeks, so it is essential for the governments to take the necessary measures.