While the country is faced with a six-year low growth of GDP and economic slowdown, ahead of the revelation of the ‘feel-good’ Union Budget for the FY2020-21 by FM Nirmala Sitharaman, Express Food & Hospitality compiled the views of what industry stalwarts are expecting from the budget.
Anurag Katriar, president, NRAI, voiced, “The Foodservice industry has been going through some tough times recently and we are hoping that the upcoming Union Budget will address a few of them. Firstly, we strongly seek restoration of input tax credit on GST for our industry. At least give us an option to choose either lower rates without ITC or a higher rate with ITC. The losses on account of denial of ITC has made a crippling impact on our financials. It is also hurting fresh investments into the sector because the CAPEX for a new place has gone up significantly. Secondly, we feel that if India has to realise it’s dream of being a $5 Trillion economy, we need to expand the business hours. Opening up the nightlife space will help us a lot in this regard. This may be slightly complicated because law and order is a state subject but I am sure that the Union government can draw out a roadmap for this. Thirdly, we believe that with online consumption on a rise, the budget should come up with some strong and fair e-commerce guidelines and laws to protect the industry against the predatory practises of most e-commerce players. Lastly, creation of a separate ministry for the F&B industry will go a long way in helping this industry grow. We are an industry of significant size and we employ around 7.30 million people in our trade and this can grow at a very fast pace.”
Vineet Verma, CEO and executive director, Brigade Hospitality Services, commented, “We appreciate that with a long list of other priorities at hand, Tourism does not necessarily list among the top three. But we still hope that a dedicated thrust is given to further promoting Tourism in India. It is one of the largest employment generators and has the potential to place India among the top five tourism destinations in the world. The spirit of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ should be extended to cover the allocation of resources to impart soft skills training at all Tourism touch-points. We welcome the move to identify and develop new destinations but it is critical that we also focus on improving connectivity & infrastructure at our existing locations.”
Shwetank Singh, VP, Development and Asset Management, InterGlobe Hotels, said, “One of our major demands as an industry continues to be infrastructure status for hotels with a capital expenditure of Rs 50 crores. Since the GST regime has been established, the cost of construction has gone up by 8-10 per cent as the entire civil structure is treated as immovable property. We are hoping to get the option to claim the input tax credit on GST for this. Also, the industry has struggled with variation in bylaws, approvals, and licenses, which is why a nodal body is required. This will help us in terms of having a proper time-bound escalation mechanism. With these main areas of standardisation we are expecting a positive Union Budget 2020 which keeps the tourism agenda at the core of economic growth.”
Dr Ankur Bhatia, executive director, Bird Group – parent organisation of Roseate Hotels & Resorts, expects a full-blown infrastructure status for the hotel sector, further rationalisation of Goods and Services tax (GST) on hotel rooms and creating an incubation fund by the government for small and medium tourism entrepreneurs in India, from the budget 2020.
Pushpendra Bansal – COO, Lords Hotels and Resorts, feels the government should strengthen its initiatives to create sustainable hospitality. “They should also waive off tourist visa fees for a shorter period to increase outbound tourism. Another important aspect is the lack of adequate infrastructure. The focus should be on developing amenities like building good quality roads, constructing public restrooms on highways and petrol stations that makes road trip safe and women-friendly,” he added.
Sarbendra Sarkar, founder and MD, Cygnett Hotels & Resorts, said, “The budget should have incentives for setting up hotels in far-flung areas. India has a lot of foreign and domestic tourist potential beyond the well-known destinations. However, these locations lack basic tourism infrastructure including good hotels. The budget should promote that. I also want the government to extend tax benefits and develop new schemes to promote inbound tourism which was not evident in the previous year.”
Vikram Kamat, founder chairman, VITS Kamats Group said, “Room Tariffs can further be simplified. If all hotels and restaurants complied to one single rate it will be much easier. For instance, room tariff and breakfast tariff are charged separately. A single rate for all rooms including breakfast would be preferable for all category hotels. I would be delighted to see changes in the Input Tax Credit. Availing Input Tax Credit would encourage standalone restaurants to buy directly from vendors who would again be paying taxes. We have very rarely heard any mentions of tourism and or hospitality in the past budgets. We look forward to hearing some good push for tourism industry especially in countries frequently travelled by Indian tourists.”