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HRAWI requests BMC to pay compensation for services during lockdown

Thursday, September 24, 2020, 11:16 Hrs  [IST]

The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Western India (HRAWI) has written to the Maharashtra Government regarding the hardships caused by the occupation of hotel rooms for housing health workers and such other persons that the BMC put up at various hotels in the city for the purpose of quarantine and accommodation and for not starting restaurants. The original rates offered to hotels by the BMC were revised but the revision has been effected only from the third week of June. Hotels have been letting rooms since April 2020 and hence are contesting the date from which the revised rates should be effected. The HRAWI has also pleaded the Government to address the issue of payments including need for SOP for payments to Hotels so as to avoid delays in payments.

“It has been almost six months since hotels were requisitioned by the BMC but haven’t received any compensation as promised, from the Government yet. Our bills lie unpaid. Restaurants and bars remain shut awaiting orders to reopen, even though everywhere else in the country they have been allowed to open and operate. Of all the industries across sectors, it is the Hospitality industry that has suffered the worst consequences of the lockdown. Despite this, the industry has stood by the Government and has lent support to it whenever called upon. From offering our hotel rooms for accommodating the health workers to distributing lakhs of free meals to the needy over the last six months, the hospitality industry has braved the adversities with a smile. Our people are as much the Corona Warriors as are the health workers. Yet, after knowing this, the Government acts complacent when it comes to acknowledging our plight,” says Mr Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, President, HRAWI.

For half a year now hotels have borne the burden of the entire costs of operation and maintenance. The last six months have been ZERO revenue months for hotels and the additional expense of accommodating health workers, providing them meals etc. has broken the backs of many hoteliers. All this comes at a cost and we cannot be expected to bear the cost specially when we are badly cash strapped ourselves.

“Initially, neither the industry nor the BMC could have guessed that the lockdowns would keep getting extended and the timeframes for which hotels would be required for quarantining purposes would be indefinite. Gradually when weeks turned to months, both parties realized that the token compensation offered initially is not going to do justice to cover for the expenses incurred by the hotels. We were in a tight spot right from the beginning. Yet we extended support to the BMC and Government when it asked for it. The hotel industry, including our restaurants voluntarily distributed meals every day for the needy. Our staff stayed in the hotels and put their lives at stake with potential COVID-19 patients staying with us. We are stating these facts to inform the Government that we did our bit over and above what was expected of us as a responsible industry and are true Corona Warriors who need to be compensated if not rewarded. All we expect the Government to do is compensate us fairly and recognize our contribution towards this pandemic. Whereas a Revised Tariff rate structure had been agreed by BMC by giving a pittance as token money, the BMC is going back on its commitments. We do not have the money to bear the costs of operations of the hotels requisitioned and used for housing doctors, medical workers and for quarantine purposes. We plead to the BMC and Government to do justice and fair play with us and expedite all our payments at the earliest,” says Mr. Paramjit Singh Ghai, Executive Committee Member, HRAWI and Owner of Hotel UniContinental, Mumbai. 

The HRAWI has thanked the BMC for revision of the rates however the same has been made effective from 18.06.2020. Since the BMC has been occupying several Hotels since more than six months, hotels have asked that the revision become applicable with retrospective effect from the month of April 2020 which is only fair.

“After HRAWI raised the matter, the BMC heard us out and even addressed our concerns, but it has done so only partly. This has left many hoteliers extremely dejected. Additionally, the BMC has not made any payments so far to us. Our request is that the revised rates be made retrospectively applicable from April 2020 and the payments be released within 15 days upon submission of bill or invoice. Presently there is no system in place for knowing the process of payment to hotels. Defining SOPs will help reduce delays in payments which directly affect the operations and sustainability of hotels,” says Pradeep Shetty, Vice President, HRAWI. 

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