Anurag Katriar, President of NRAI; CEO & Executive Director of deGustibus Hospitality Pvt. Ltd said in a statement, “The restaurant industry with an annual turnover of approximately Rs 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.”
Katriar adds that the Association has written to the FM for a 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,” Katriar.
Last week, the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) had issued an advisory to all its members to shut down their dine-in operations till 31st March, 2020. This directive came following the serious health risk posed to millions of employees and patrons in the food service sector amidst the ever-worsening impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
He further added, “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.”
NRAI says the Union and the State Governments are two of the most important stakeholders and the sector is pinning a lot of hope on them to for a bailout. “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, moratorium on bank loans, restoration of input tax credit on GST for the sector and a general invocation of force majeure clause in view of this global pandemic,” says Katriar.
Thousands of restaurateurs across several cities responded positively to the call to shut down their operations in an effort to contain the spread of 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.