New Delhi: Considering the losses faced by the hospitality industry due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Maharashtra government has decided to partially waiver of the excise license fee on a pro-rata basis and also decided to withdraw the 15 per cent increase in license fee for the year 2020-21. The decision of the Maharashtra Cabinet received a warm welcome by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) and the Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FHRAI). Also Read - Sharad Pawar Warns Centre To Take Back Farm Laws As Massive Crowd Turns Up in Mumbai's Farmers Rally

The decision was taken as hotels and restaurants faced severe loss during the lockdown period and the little chance they had of recovering some of the losses during Christmas and New Year were also over after the state government announced a night curfew from December 22 to January 5, 2021. According to the government, this decision will help in restoring normalcy in the hospitality sector post the COVID-19 pandemic. Also Read - Thousands of Maharashtra Farmers Reach Mumbai to Protest Agri Laws, to Hold Rally at Azad Maidan Today

HRAWI, FHRAI and Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) in a statement said this decision will help the beleaguered industry, which was shut for 7 months due to the lockdown. Also Read - Samples of Poultry From 16 Maharashtra Districts Test Positive For Bird Flu | Complete List Here

President of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India, Sherry Bhatia said, “This is a major relief for the restaurants in the state and we thank the government for giving us the waiver on the excise license fee. The eight odd months of lockdown has wrecked almost every other player in the hospitality industry. An annual fee should be payable if a service is rendered for the entire year. The HRAWI had been contesting the applicability of the fee ever since restaurants were asked to remain closed during the lockdown. Also, the 15 per cent increase in the annual fee at a time when hotels and restaurants remained shut was unfair.”

Meanwhile, FHRAI Vice President Gurbaxish Singh Kohli said, “Restaurants had not voluntarily closed business but were asked to do so, as per government orders during the lockdown. The government, especially our Hon’ble Chief Minister and Tourism Minister have been very receptive to our pleas throughout the crisis and we are relieved to hear the announcement. I would be failing if I did not thank Ms Valsa Nair Singh, Principal Secretary, Tourism and Excise, for making this possible.”

“This is a very positive step towards supporting the industry which has been badly hit due to the pandemic related lockdown. We expect such kind of steps in the coming days too, which will help the industry to bounce back to some normalcy.

“Our industry is the second-largest employment provider with 60 lakh direct employment in and around Mumbai and two crores indirect employment and this will help the government too on the revenue front,” AHAR president Shivanand Shetty said.

(With PTI inputs)