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Kant suggests ridding restaurants of multiple licences & rating states
Wednesday, 15 May, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
Restaurant businesses should be unshackled from the chain of multiple licencing regimes and called for a rating of states for ease of doing business based on restaurants and hotels’ operations. This was stated by NITI Ayog chief executive officer Amitabh Kant at the launch event of National Restaurant Association of India’s (NRAI) Food Service Report 2019.

He suggested that states must also be rated on how smoothly the restaurant business was operating and which state was reducing the number of licences required to operate a F&B (food and beverage) facility.

Kant has said that he would write to chief secretaries of all the state/UTs (Union Territories) to look into the subject of harassment faced by the restaurants on account of number of licences required for the operations.

“I shall be writing to the chief secretaries of all the states and UTs for a review of the issue related to multiple licences required to open a restaurant. The F&B industry, being one of the major drivers of the growth, needs a push from the policy makers,” he added.

The NITI Ayog chief stated that huge complexities were created due to the licencing issue and best practices should replace the current regime.

According to the NRAI, there are currently 12-17 licences required to open a restaurant or F&B facility in India. This is very high as compared to countries like Singapore or China, where only four licences are required.

The licences include food safety licence (FSSAI), health/trade licence (municipal corporation), eating out licence (police), liqour licence (excise), approval licence (tourism), music licence (copyright), environment clearance separately for water and air (State Pollution Control Board), NOC (no-objection certificate) of fire department, Weights and Measures (legal metrology), lift licence (if any), licence under Shops and Establishment Act, signage licence, Employee State Insurance, registration under PF (Provident Fund) and GST (Goods and Services Tax)/VAT (value-added tax) registration.

Meanwhile, NRAI has suggested that besides there was a need to relook into the subject of input tax credit (ITC) for the restaurants or F&B facilities under the GST regime. It suggested that restaurants should have option of choosing from two GST slabs, the present five per cent without ITC or 12 per cent with ITC.

The association also suggested to include liqour in the GST to maintain the uniform policy of excise in the country and overall, a uniform model national policy for restaurant licencing.
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