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New Delhi: National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) NRAI had written to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for a financial bailout package. The move primarily aimed at providing immediate relief to over 7 million people employed in the F&B Sector who stand severely impacted due to the outbreak and spread of COVID-19.
Advisory for all its members:
It has to be remembered that the association has issued an advisory to all its Members to shut down their dine-in operations till 31st March 2020 in view of the serious health risk to millions of employees and patrons in the Food Service Sector amidst ever-worsening situation around COVID-19 in India.
“We are a people-centric business employing millions of people who regularly use mass public transport systems such as local trains, metros, and buses to commute to their workplace. They are in the crowd and therefore, always carry a huge risk of getting infected with the deadly virus and eventually becoming carriers of this virus. These very people then come in contact with the guests at our restaurants and bars and we, therefore, run the risk of inadvertently infecting them despite our best efforts to deploy available preventive measures like maintaining checks on employees and our restaurants in terms of hygiene, health, and cleanliness.”, a note from the president reads.
Thousands of Restaurateurs across several cities responded positively to the call and shut down their operations in an effort to contain the spread of the virus, despite incurring financial losses in the process. The move was subsequently followed by several State Governments and City Administrations issuing directives to mandatorily shut down Restaurants until 31st March 2020.
Anurag Katriar, President of NRAI, said “The Restaurant Industry with an annual turnover of approximately INR 4 Lakh Crore providing direct
employment to over 7 million Indians is in a very precarious situation currently, fighting a grim battle for its basic survival. In these times of unprecedented crisis, the fate of 7.30 million employees in the F&B sector is our biggest concern. We don’t want them to suffer but unfortunately, we don’t have adequate resources to support them for long. Hence, we have written to our Hon’ble Finance Minister requesting for financial relief at such a crucial time. While preventing loss of direct jobs is our prime concern, we are also concerned about the dreams of many young entrepreneurs in the sector getting shattered due to this calamity.”
He further adds, “We, as an Industry, operate with a very high proportion of fixed operating expenses which makes our business very high-risk even in case of moderate revenue fluctuations. Now we are staring at almost zero revenue in the immediate term and at least drop 50% for months thereafter. We are therefore seeking support from everyone in the ecosystem in mitigating these fixed operating costs so that our losses are contained to manageable levels. The Union and the State Governments are two of the most important stakeholders and we are pinning lots of hope on them to bail us out of this unprecedented crisis. Some of our salient demands are some pay cover for the marginal employees in the sector, deferment of all statutory dues at the central and state level, a moratorium on bank loans, restoration of an input tax credit on GST for the sector and a general invocation of force majeure clause in view of this global pandemic.”