SAMBALPUR: Reeling under heavy losses due to successive waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, the members of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western Odisha (HRAWO) have sought respite from the State government and requested permission to operate in full capacity and exemption of taxes.
Addressing a press conference here, president of HRAWO Jasbir Singh Hura said the hospitality industry is the worst hit by the pandemic.
"We expected the government to allow operation of restaurants and bars for outside guests under the new unlock guidelines as our districts are in category A. However, though almost all business establishments have been allowed to operate from 6 am to 8 pm and curbs have been lifted from transportation facilities, the hotels, restaurants and bars are still under restrictions," he said.
Hura said restaurants and bars operate by adopting more safety practices than any other establishments. Therefore, the government should reconsider its decision and allow the hospitality industry to operate in full capacity at the earliest.
The members put forth five demands including complete refund of the ‘On Shop’ license fees which are collected every month though bars and restaurants are not doing any business during the lockdown period. Further, electricity bills should be charged on the basis of actual consumption and other miscellaneous charges also refunded.
All license and certificates like pollution and fire besides other municipal taxes like holding should be waived off considering the impact of Covid on the hospitality sector.
Besides, all licenses should be automatically extended till March 31, 2022. The association also sought two years of GST holiday as compensation for the huge loss incurred due to the pandemic.
HRAWO requested for soft banks loans to operate and restart business besides waiver of interest on the existing bank loans from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2022.
HRAWO has written to the Principal Secretary, Tourism and Excise Commissioner in this connection.
Bike lifter gang busted, seven arrested
Town police busted a seven-member gang of bike lifters from different areas engaged in escorting ganja traffickers in the region on Thursday.
Acting on a tip off about the biker gang from a recently-released criminal from jail, police raided different areas of Semiliguda, Nandapur, Potangi and Kotpad and arrested seven persons in the connection and seized nine bikes. Jeypore SDPO AA Behera said the vehicles were used for ganja smuggling in the tribal regions.
“We have initiated investigation into the matter and others involved will be nabbed soon,” added Behera.