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HAI asks Delhi Government to keep “Classified” Hotels out of the purview of the New Excise Policy

Saturday, December 4, 2021, 16:52 Hrs  [IST]

Hotel Association of India (HAI), the apex body of the Indian hospitality sector, has appealed to the Delhi government to keep hotels classified in the approved categories of the Ministry of Tourism (GoI), outside the purview of the New Excise Policy. While the new policy envisions “reforms” as the backbone to augment revenues for the Government and considers requirements of a modern, progressive city; aspects related to licenses for banquet halls in hotels need to be revisited for the sector to survive and thrive especially in the backdrop of the pandemic. HAI has made recommendations to Shri Arava Gopi Krishna, Delhi Excise Commissioner and Shri Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi to address challenges faced by the industry as a result of flaws in the New Excise Policy. Calling for the immediate deferment in the rollout of the New Excise Policy, Shri MP Bezbaruah, Secretary General, Hotel Association of India said, “Several clauses in the New Excise Policy go against the very basis of ease of doing business by Hotels. For instance, one of the clauses in the new excise policy makes hotels liable for acts of a third party by making them responsible and penalizing them for any misrepresentation of facts by the customer. This will have an adverse impact on hotels’ liquor sales and create operational difficulties for hotels. Similarly, there is a differing view on the timings for service of liquor. While license conditions permit service throughout the day, permissions differ under the licensing conditions applicable as per permissions of the Delhi Police. The policy lacks clarity and needs to be reviewed before being implemented fully. Engagement with relevant industry players before implementing the policy will go a long way in creating a mutually beneficial framework in Delhi NCR.” Presently, Delhi Police permissions under the DCP Licensing conditions allow restaurants to remain open till 1 am only. The non-clarity has ensured that State Excise Officials maintain the status quo on this issue for the time being. HAI, in its letter to the Delhi Excise Commissioner and the State Government highlighted that in the absence of a ‘specific’ license, hotels are unable to serve, or own liquor stored in L-15/L-16 licensed premises in banquets. The liquor procured under the new L-38 License by the host will be handed over to the hotel only on the date of the function. “Moreover, the terms and conditions of the existing L-16 license has not been modified from which it can be inferred that the hotel can still serve liquor from L16 in the banquets on the basis of L-38 License”, Bezbaruah added. Moreover, for hotel hosted functions too, hotels will be required to procure liquor under L-38 and will not be able to hold left over stocks back in the premises. Further, in order to store leftover stocks, guests/hotel representatives (for internal functions) are required to apply for L-30 license within the permissible storage limit within 7 days of an event. HAI has also called for a uniform policy for charging corkage/service facilities apart from seeking implementation of a policy to charge license fee in the absence of fixed per event charge which can be levied to customers.

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