THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The upward spiral in the prices of essential commodities, coupled with the steep hike in commercial LPG price, has started showing results on food prices in city restaurants. Tea and coffee were the first casualties of the hike in LPG prices, which came into effect on April 1. Several hotels and restaurants in the city hiked the prices of tea and coffee by ` 1 soon. While noon meal prices saw an increase of Rs 2 - Rs 5, meat and fish dishes too have become costly. ‘’Frequent price rises affect the industry badly. Hoteliers, especially, small and medium traders, cannot be blamed if they hike the prices,’’ said G Sudhish Kumar, president of the Kerala Hotel and Restaurant Association.
‘’The Association has no role in hiking prices, it is the prerogative of the establishments concerned,’’ he added.
The Association has decided to take up the issue with the Government after its state meeting in Kochi on April 22, Sudhish Kumar said.
‘’We have already met Industries Minister P K Kunhalikutty and apprised him of the problems faced by the sector. The Minister assured us that he would favourably consider our major demands, including power and investment subsidies,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, several hoteliers accused the Government of not taking any action either to control the prices of commodities or to give assistance to the hotel industry to avoid food price hikes.
‘’The Government is turning a blind eye to the issue, leaving us to bear the brunt of public ire,’’ said a hotelier.
‘’We too do not prefer price hikes because it affects our business. Modest prices will attract more people to restaurants,’’ he said.
‘’All these years, the Government could introduce just one project, the ‘Janatha Hotel’ scheme, to control hotel food prices. More than once it proved to be a blunder with the Civil Supplies Department withdrawing itself from supplying commodities at subsidised prices to hotels partnered with the scheme,’’ said another hotelier.
The hoteliers also demand that the Government should provide commercial LPG cylinders at subsidised rates to hotels. From Rs 800 last April, the price of a cylinder has more than doubled to Rs 1,796 this April. ‘’Hotels and restaurants in the city have no other option but to rely on LPG. The oil companies should be asked to grant a special rate to hotels as the public would be the ultimate beneficiaries,’’ he said.