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GST: Clutter on bill gone, enjoy your food


NEW DELHI: Restaurateur Zorawar Kalra was pleasantly surprised to see diners click photos of their bills at his restaurants on Saturday rather than that of dishes. Founder and managing director of Massive Restaurants, which runs 17 popular outlets across the country, such as Farzi Cafe, Masala Library and Kode, Zoravar said the biggest improvement in restaurant billing after implementation of GST has been cleaner bills that do not mention random break-ups.

“Dining out had become a tricky affair as diners were not able to calculate their exact bills due to different slabs such as VAT, service tax, Swachh Bharat Cess and Krishi Kalyan Cess. Now they know that they have to pay Rs 18 for every Rs 100 spent on food. This makes planning your meal easier,” he observed. He added that though the difference in the total bill would be a mere one per cent – 18 per cent as compared to close to 19 per cent earlier – clarity will encourage diners to head out.

While restaurant owners think it is too early to gauge the impact of GST on dining out or its benefit to consumers, simplified taxation is something they all welcome. Riyaaz Amlani, president of National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) and head of Impressario Entertainment and Hospitality that runs popular outlets Social, Smoke House and Slink & Bardot across India, welcomed GST as a “well- intentioned reform and a remarkable achievement of the government.” Riyaaz’s only demand from the government was to keep restaurants in the 12 per cent slab as compared to 18 per cent now.

Keeping alcohol out of GST though has meant that many customers got two bills — one for alcohol that continues to attract a VAT of 20 per cent and another for food in air-conditioned outlets, fixed at 18 per cent. Eating out in five-star restaurants has also got cheaper as some outlets were paying almost 20 per cent tax due to different state taxes while now it has been fixed at 18 per cent. There were jokes in social media like ‘do guna lagaan’ due to SGST and CGST but this is not a case of a consumer being taxed twice but only a break-up of GST into 9 per cent each for the Centre and state.

Nidhi Verma of Leela Ambience Gurugram said there used to be a notion that dining at five-star hotels was an expensive affair as compared to standalone restaurants. But introduction of GST, according to her means, paying the same for eating at outlets in a hotel or outside. “Most five-star outlets do not levy service charge. So, with the introduction of GST, even though marginally less, it will still be more economical to actually eat at a five-star diner,” she explained.

For those fretting about their luxury holidays, having to wait due to a higher tax of 28 per cent on room rents above Rs 7,500, Nidhi said the way to beat that was to book a standard room that costs less and pay for dining and spa services separately – all at 18 per cent — rather than opting for an all-inclusive package that would push the cost up since it will attract a tax of 28 per cent.
Restaurants are, however, still trying to figure out the impact on their business. Some were unsure of the level of ‘set off’ or reimbursements they received earlier on service tax. Others were working out a change in their procurement prices as certain items had lesser taxes while others have been placed in a higher bracket. “We will be able to decide what benefits to be passed to consumers after a month of assessment as the change looks nominal or none,” said one restaurateur on condition of anonymity.

NRAI though is hopeful of a further reduction in taxes on eating out. “We would have ideally liked to be in a lower tax slab. We hope the government takes industry inputs and reduces taxes and regulations on our industry. Dining out is an important part of Incredible India image and reduced taxes will make our country a lucrative tourism destination for foreigners,” asserted Amlani.
Source: Times of India

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