Archana Sharma – New Delhi
Expressing their concern over the new Excise Policy 2015-16, unveiled earlier in March 2015, the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Northern India (HRANI), stated that it will result in reduction of sales and adversely affect the businesses of small-time hotels and restaurants of Haryana. Elaborating on the same, S M Shervani, immediate past president, Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI), mentioned that it will be hard for the small-scale members to submit the fee even for the first quarter.
Asking for an equivalent tax regime, Manbeer Chaudhary, president, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Haryana (HRAH) and former president, FHRAI, stated, “We are not asking for complete renewal but want the annual license fee to be fixed at Rs 7.5 lakh like the other districts.” While the license fee, under the new Excise Policy 2015-16, for Gurgaon and Faridabad has been increased from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 12 lakh and Rs 10 lakh respectively, it has been revised at Rs 7.5 lakh for the remaining 19 districts.
According to Chaudhary, the main issues that will affect the hotel and restaurant businesses of Gurgaon and Faridabad are the increased license fee, permit fee for imported liquor and the broadened list of establishments which require licenses to include resorts and banquet halls which hold events and functions. “Banquet halls and resorts have to register themselves with the excise authorities and pay an annual fee of Rs 25,000 to serve liquor at events. Additionally, they have to shell out Rs 5,000 for each event that they host,” he added. He opined that the same should not be higher than Rs 2,000 since earlier the amount was kept at Rs 1,500. Also, bars and restaurants which wish to keep their establishments open beyond midnight will have to pay an additional fee for additional hours now.
Commenting on the repercussions of the policy, Luv Malhotra, president, HRANI, said, “The Gurgaon region has witnessed growth and development only in the last 20 years and imposing such heavy taxes will affect new businesses as well as the existing ones.” Adding to the same, Chaudhary stated that the new policy will encourage roadside drinking and adversely impact the hotel and restaurant businesses of the region. “Never in the history of Haryana, the government has announced such a steep hike in the license fee. But they need to understand that in order to promote responsible drinking the fee should be kept less,” he added.
After meeting with Manohar Lal Khattar, chief minister, Haryana, on March 20, the HRANI and HRAH delegation is hopeful that the taxes will be reduced, if not rolled back completely and the notification will be issued soon.