The National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) said that a four-member delegation of the industry body had a meeting with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, through video conferencing, on Thursday to discuss urgent industry-specific issues.
In a statement, NRAI said that the meeting was also attended by Economic Affairs Secretary Tarun Bajaj and Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey. The NRAI delegation included its President Anurag Katriar among others.
The delegation spoke about the core issues impacting the sector due to COVID-induced lockdown and sought policy and liquidity support, which are unlikely to put any major strain on the state exchequer.
The industry body reiterated the need for pay support for its lower-end employees through the ESIC corpus. Out of around 3.20 crore beneficiaries of the ESIC scheme, over 50 lakh belong to the hospitality sector, as per NRAI.
It also requested the Finance Minister to make available urgent working capital support at the lowest possible interest, as close to the repo rates, with a six-month moratorium for the restaurant industry.
Further, a 'Force Majeure' declaration was also sought towards rent payment. The delegation also proposed regulation and capping of discount and commission by online platforms.
The four-member delegation also requested for allowing an option to avail Input Tax Credit (ITC) on GST for the restaurant industry. The proposal was also made to have dual rates, current 5 per cent for those not availing ITC and 12 per cent for those availing ITC.
NRAI also requested refunds for all pending tax claims be expedited.
On the meeting with the Finance Minister, NRAI President Katriar said: "We conveyed to them that we are fighting a grim battle for our existence and we will need urgent policy and liquidity support from the government to survive this phase. We informed them that if we fail to do so, it may lead to massive job losses in the sector.
"Each issue was discussed in detail and she (the Finance Minister) has promised to look into all of these issues at the earliest. She also gracefully offered to hold a more detailed meeting at a later date," he said.