National body says seven million of the workforce reeling from the shutdown, asks government for immediate financial relief
Most of the workers in the F&B sector are migrants. Pic/Bipin Kokate
As the country goes into lock-down with all businesses shut, over seven million people em-ployed in the Food and Bever-age (F&B) sector have lost their incomes. The National Restau-rant Association of India (NRAI), which had called on the indus-try to close dine-in operations last week, has now written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to bail the industry out.
Anurag Katriar, president of NRAI and Executive Director of deGustibus Hospitality Pvt. Ltd., said, "The restaurant industry has an annual turnover of around R4 lakh crore. We don't want our employees to suffer but we don't have enough resources."
"We are staring at zero revenue in the immediate term and a drop of at least 50 per cent for months. Some of our demands are pay cover for marginal employees, deferment of all statutory dues at the central and state level, a moratorium on bank loans, restoration of input tax credit on GST for the sector and a general invocation of force majeure clause in view of the global pandemic," Katriar said.
The focus of restaurants is to help employees. Pic/suresh karkera
Last week, when Gauri Devidayal informed her team that restaurants would be shutting down, most of her employees, who fall in the lower pay bracket, said they would have to return to their villages.
"One of them said he does not have a gas connection where he stays in the city. The migrant workers rely on staff meals, their life revolves around the restaurant. This was an eye-opener. We can support them through March, but what happens after?" said Devidayal, who co-owns The Table, Magazine Street Kitchen and Mei 13 with her husband Jay Yousuf.
Those with a higher salary have expenses such as EMIs and insurances.
"Our senior staff that comes in the aspirational bracket have bought homes, cars and though don't rely on daily wages, they too will be hit with other overheads. We've asked for two things: extension on payment of statutory dues and allotment of cash to the employees," Devidayal said.
No. of people in the F&B sector affected by the shutdown
What NRAI seeks
. Deferment of statutory dues like GST, advance tax payments, PF, ESIC, customs duties, state excise, liquor licence renewal, VAT for 12 months
. Immediate restoration of Input Tax Credit on GST in the sector
. Unemployment pay cover
. Deferment of payments for utilities
£ Moratorium for repayment of all types of loans and facilities for 12 months and immediate suspension of interest charged on term loan or working capital for three months. Doubling of working capital exposure sans interest and collateral after crisis ends
. Urgent settlement of claims by both public and private sector insurance firms for covers taken by businesses on loss due to unforeseen circumstances; immediate freeze on any increase in insurance premiums for a year
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