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Restaurant owners want end to ‘licence raj’


Once famous as the ‘city of pubs’, there is a serious crisis brewing in the restaurant industry because of various factors, the biggest of which is an unwillingness to grant new liquor licences and a convoluted licence process for restaurants, owners allege.

At a meeting called by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) on Friday, president Riyaaz Amlani said, “The restaurant industry is over-regulated. We are reeling under a licence raj. The industry provides 22 million direct and indirect jobs out of which 35 per cent is in the organised sector. The easing up of the licence regime would make it easier for the industry to contribute more.”

Discussing issues ranging from bribes to the police, or protection money, to the freeze on new liquor licences for more than two decades, Mr. Amlani said that the latter had resulted in renting of available licences for lakhs of rupees making it inevitable for prices to be hiked.

“Licenses are being held by select groups. Renting a licence costs lakhs of rupees. Buying one costs crores,” he said.

“Let us begin operations after registration. Officials can come and check on us whenever they want. This is better then setting up a restaurant only to be told by officials that a licence cannot be granted,” he said.

Source: The Hindu

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