In tandem with state governments like Maharashtra acting more proactive to the demand of permitting open air spaces like terraces for restaurant’s and keeping restaurants open for 24x7 in commercial spaces under Mode Shops and Establishments Act, the restaurant industry seems to be on the cusp of adding new dimensions to it with overall consumption expected to go up. In line with this the industry is also all set to get its concerns addressed through the nodal officer to be appointed by the tourism industry while talking to the government about allowing Input Tax Credit. Thus, talking about this transition phase of the industry and concerns that needs to be addressed Anurag Katriar, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, deGustibus Hospitality spoke to Restaurantindia.in on the sidelines of 35th NRAI AGM.
What is your view on the government appointing nodal officer in the tourism industry?
It’s a fantastic move because currently if you see the restaurant industry is not controlled by any one ministry but multiple industries. Tourism ministry appointing a nodal officer is a great initiative. With this officer the government is creating a clear cut interface with the ministry. It will lead to a lot of close co-ordination with him as he will be the face to the ministry to deal with our affairs. For this there is been a lot of representation made to the government that we are not governed by any single ministry so they need to give us one umbrella body.
Still there is no input tax credit in the restaurant industry what could be the move forward?
There is some misplaced notion somewhere in the government and this will change certainly. Practically, input tax credit is very unfair to any industry as ultimately end of the day you need to give me input tax credit for whatever I spent. For any corporate the input tax credit is a huge thing because it’s an expense that they are incurring and there is nothing in return. In addition to this adding 18 percent to their food and beverage bill is a lot of money. Hence, going forward this will be revisited by the government in some point of time.
How do you look at the module of the industry changing with Maharashtra government allowing open air spaces like terrace restaurants?
It’s a great initiative. The moment they will permit open air spaces it will add a new dimension to the restaurant industry. Today Mumbai may not have conducive weather to support round the year but at least 3 to 5 months in a year we can run the terrace restaurants. With a good weather in adjoining cities like Pune the experience of a diner and whole look and feel of the restaurant will flourish.
And how would you welcome the decision of keeping restaurants open for 24x7 in commercial spaces under Model Shops and Establishments Act?
First of all it will lead to huge employment for people and revenue generation for the government. Eventually today India is not the same India of 20 years back. The urbanization is happening every day. The villages on the outskirts of Delhi where there was no electricity are urban hubs today.
However, urbanization spreading across will help eating out habit go up and late nights will have to happen. People are working round the clock till late night and restaurants are becoming industry friendly so this is a support system to the trade. Overall it is commerce so 24x7 will have another beautiful impact on the industry. It will actually improve the security aspect of the city in my view as there will be lesser crime if the city is officially up.
So far how has been the cascading effect of GST and highway liquor ban on consumption?
There is nothing noticeable impact in consumption after GST. But there is still some impact of highway liquor ban, people are still coming back. There is so much of misinformation about this whole thing that people are still not sure that we are serving liquor or not and what is the rule. Recently, I got to know that in Pune they said that we are only approving the pre-existing licenses and not going to give new licenses. It’s a misrepresentation of the old letter and this is leading to more uncertainties with the customers.