NRAI Requests Finance Minister For Financial Bailout Package For Food Service Sector
Move primarily aimed at providing an immediate relief to over 7 million people employed in F&B Sector who stand severely impacted due to outbreak and spread of COVID-19
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The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) has requested the Finance Minister for a financial bailout package for the food services sector that employs over 7 million people. “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,” says Anurag Katriar, President of NRAI in a letter sent to the FM on March 23.
NRAI says that on March 18, it had issued an advisory to all its members to shut down their dine-in operations till March 31 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. 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; CEO & Executive Director of deGustibus Hospitality Pvt. Ltd 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 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 is 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 the input tax credit on GST for the sector and a general invocation of force majeure clause in view of this global Pandemic.”