Apex industry body National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) on Friday said its representatives have interacted with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to highlight the core issues impacting restaurants across the country due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
A four-member delegation interacted with the finance minister through video conference on Thursday to discuss urgent industry-specific issues. All these issues are largely around policy and liquidity support, none of the suggested measures is expected to put any major strain on the exchequer, NRAI said in a statement.
NRAI President Anurag Katriar said the delegation conveyed to the government that the restaurant sector is fighting a grim battle for existence and it will need urgent policy and liquidity support from the government to survive this phase.
“We informed them that if we fail to do so, it may lead to massive job losses in the sector. Each issue was discussed in detail and she has promised to look into all of these issues at the earliest,” he added.
In the virtual interaction with the finance minister, “she also advised to look at the few urgent coronavirus-induced issues first and the larger policy issues can be discussed in detail in due course. She further gracefully offered to hold a more detailed meeting at a later date,” Katriar said.
The key issues that were discussed are request for an unemployment pay support for the lower-end employees through ESIC corpus, the statement said.
“Request was also made to make available urgent working capital support at the lowest possible interest, as close to the repo rates, with a six-month moratorium for the restaurant industry,” it added.
The delegation also urged invocation of ‘Force Majeure’ towards rent as the current pandemic is one of the worst human crisis ever, NRAI said.
A request was also made for an e-commerce policy to regulate and cap platform-led discounts and commissions, it added.
The delegation also asked for allowing an option to avail input tax credit (ITC) on GST for the restaurant industry.
It also asked for expediting the refund for all pending tax claims at the earliest, NRAI said.
The interaction apart from the finance minister was also attended by the secretary of economic affairs department and the revenue secretary, it added.
The Indian tourism industry earlier said it was deeply taken aback as none of its concerns have been addressed by the government in its economic stimulus package.