Almost all hotels, restaurants and messes in the Fort City remained closed on Monday in response to the nationwide bandh called by the Tamil Nadu Hotels Association (TNHA), in protest against the impositions of service tax by the union government on them.
State president of the TNHA Vengatasubbu said, the response was overwhelming and total. “Over 50,000 hotels, restaurants and messes across the State had extended support to the bandh call,” he added.
The TNHA had called for the bandh in protest against the Union government’s imposition of 12.3 per cent service tax on 40 per cent of sales proceeds of the hotels, in addition to the sales tax in the VAT imposed by the State government. “We objected to this double taxation which is not only a burden on consumers but also is illegal,” Vengatasubbu said.
“This problem of double taxation was discussed at a meeting organised by the Federation of Hotel Associations (comprising office bearers and representatives of hotel associations from all States) in Mumbai two weeks ago and a unanimous decision was taken to launch a nationwide bandh if the Central government did not roll back the service tax,” he said.
In Chennai, the one-day nationwide protest against the government’s move to impose additional service tax on air-conditioned hotels had a good impact on those that operated as they made good sales. Though the one-day closure came as a surprise for many, particularly those who arrived from other States at railway stations and the Koyambedu bus terminus, finding an alternative eat out just for a day was not difficult either. Passengers at the Koyamebedu bus terminus too did not have problem finding an eat-out as many eateries and joints remained open.
A number of eateries and private catering services inside railway stations too cashed in on the closure as many passengers bought food from them after finding big hotels in the locality closed.
The private caterers licensed with the railways too were ready to meet the demands as they stocked up on extra food items for the day. I thought even these small hotels would be closed. But I was lucky, almost all of them in and out of the terminus were open,” said Shankar, who came to the city from Tindivanam.