Mumbai hotels to protest service tax

Mumbai, April 26 (IANS) Around 20,000 hotels and restaurants in Mumbai will join an all-India strike Monday (April 29) to protest the new service tax on fully or partly air-conditioned eateries, an official said here Friday.

The bandh call has been given by the Indian Hotels and Restaurants Association (AHAR) and supported by its affiliates all over the country, said general secretary Shashikant Shetty.

“AHAR and other organisations have strongly denounced the new service tax implemented from April 1, which has hit managements and patrons hard,” said AHAR president Arvind Shetty.

“This has hiked restaurant bills by as much as one-third for those preferring to have their meals in air-conditioned areas in an eatery,” Arvind Shetty said.

“The union budget is framed to exploit the common man who come to satisfy their hunger. The UPA government’s move is unjustified,” Arvind Shetty told mediapersons.

Shashikant Shetty said that AHAR and other groups have made written submissions to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, but to no avail.

“Most MPs we met gave us a patient hearing but pleaded helplessness in the matter,” Shashikant Shetty added.

He pointed out that a majority of AHAR members in Mumbai were small eating joints which kept a part of their premises air-conditioned in view of customer demands.

“The new service tax will drive many customers to eat from illegal roadside eateries that run their businesses without paying taxes,” Shashikant Shetty said.

He claimed that nearly 135 eateries in middle-class areas have already downed shutters in the past couple of years and other laws and norms have made it impossible for many restaurateurs to continue their businesses.

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