Slapping tax on rural revelry dens to play party pooper

Learning a lesson from last year's trend where organisers shifted party venues to suburban areas like Lonavala and Khandala to save on entertainment tax, the govt has decided to impose 10 per cent cess much to their dismay

The hottest destinations for party animals -- Mulshi, Khadakwasla, Lonavala and Khandala -- could well turn out to be a damp squib this festive season as the state government has slapped a 10 per cent entertainment tax on these revelers' dens in the suburban areas.

Buzzkill: The decision to charge entertainment tax in rural area will 
severely affect the party festive season, say hotel owners. 
Representation Pic

According to revenue department officials, the government brought these pockets under the purview of entertainment tax as most organisers had shifted their party venues outside city limits to rural destinations to save on entertainment tax last year. The statewide trend of shifting the party venue had caused the exchequer losses to the tune of crores of rupees, said an official. 

The latest decision of the government has not gone down well with party and event organisers. They fear that the government directive would play pooper this festive season. Prasad Shetty, president of Pune Restaurants and Hoteliers Association, said, "The decision to charge entertainment tax in rural areas will severely affect the party festive season. The government is yet to announce the deadline for holding parties." 

Shetty, however, added, "But the New Year's eve falling on a Saturday has given a glimmer of hope to hoteliers. We hope the party scene is hotter as compared to last year and increase in entertainment tax does not act as a deterrent in the revelry." 

Entertainment Department official told MiD DAY that they have received only 25 applications for hosting parties so far and only five them are from rural areas. "As the party season is yet to start, we are expecting more applications in the next few days. The entertainment tax was revised in January this year where in it was decided that 20 per cent tax would be charged from party organisers within Municipal Corporation limits and 10 per cent for events organised small towns or rural destinations falling under municipal councils."
The Pune Rural police also have appealed to citizens to avoid flouting norms. Deputy Superintendent of Police Ramnath Pokle said, "We will carry out operations against drink driving from next week. Nakabandi will be put up on a regular basis at all important locations. All police stations have been asked to collect information on party organisers and the nature of the party." 

Pokle added that the rural police had eight breath analysers and they had asked for eight more from the home department to help keep a tab on tipsy drivers in a better way. According to the Lonavala Police, they haven't received any application seeking NoC for hosting a party so far. "I think pleas for NoCs will start pouring in during the last week of December," said a police officer.

Founder of artiste and event management company, Desting of Sounds, Vinay Pawar, who will be organising a Christmas party in the city, feels that the 20 per cent tax on parties in the city and 10 per cent for those organised outside the city definitely will affect the party scene. 

"If a person spends a given  amount of money to attend a party, he obviously expects something free in the package. Now if the entry per couple is Rs 4,000 plus taxes, the event organiser will have to cut on quantity of food or alcohol to meet the demands of his client. This leaves a very small profit margin for the organiser or restaurant owner," he said.

So does that mean restaurants and event organisers would compromise on the quality? He said, "Definitely not, we need people to come back to our parties again. Why would we do that?"

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