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Impossible to Pay Salaries & Wages to Staff With Zero Cash Flow, Says Hotel Association, Seeks Relief from CM Jairam Thakur

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Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association

Shimla-The nationwide-lockdown in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has badly hit the States having tourism industry as their major source of revenue. In such states, the financial crisis is staring in the face of every individual associated with the hospitality industry.

For Himachal Pradesh, this industry is the second-largest source of revenue, which implies a large number of people are dependent on their livelihood on tourism. This year, the State tourism activity is sure to remain closed during both the peak seasons for tourism– summers and winters.

The fear of loss of jobs or unpaid leaves is looming large on the heads of lakhs of people employed with travel agencies and as staff at hotels and restaurants or working as taxi drivers etc. The revival of this industry would be a slow process even after the end of the lockdown.   

With this concern, led by its president Sanjay Sood, a delegation of the Shimla Hotel and Restaurants Association that also included office bearers Mr. Prince Kukreja and Mr. Baljeet Singh met the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur on Wednesday.

The delegation sought relief for the battered tourism industry in the State and apprised the Chief Minister regarding issues like staff salaries, electricity bills, Bar Licence fees etc.

The delegation appreciated Jairam Thakur for being the first Chief Minister to impose a complete curfew to tackle the COVID-19. The association hoped it would help making Himachal a coronavirus-free State soon.

However, due to the lock down, the tourism industry has taken a major setback and would take a much longer time to revive as compared to any other industry due two major reasons, he said.  

First, people will be scared to travel for a long time even after the situation normalises. Secondly, due to poor financial health post-lockdown, people will be left with very less spending capacity and would be busy resurrecting their lost businesses rather than travel for leisure.

Sanjay Sood said that the majorly affected industry would require immense support from the State Government to revive itself. He sought some immediate reliefs to tide over the major crises, which are as followed:

Note: The below-given information has been published from the presentation given to the Chief Minister by the Delegation and is not edited by Himachal Watcher.

Salaries and Wages:

  1. Our industry is highly labour intensive; we require unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled manpower in large numbers. With our business completely shut down since the 3rd week of March and after foreseeing a long period after which we expect our sector to revive, our biggest concern is the Salary and wages of our staff. We deeply understand that the livelihood of so many families depends on the establishments. It is impossible to pay the salaries & wages with zero cash flows for such a long period and it pains us not being able to pay the remuneration to them. Since the staff is technically on leave due to this medical emergency, the ESIC Corporation can be directed to pay their salaries as they do when the staff is on leave due to some medical condition. This support from the Govt/ESIC will be required not only during the lockdown period but also, 6 months after that, since Tourism is not likely to pick up till the last quarter.
  2. For the staff who are beyond the coverage limit of the ESIC, the establishments may be allowed to pay 25% of the salary and balance may be paid by Government/Government agency like EPF.
  3. For the units which are not covered under ESIC but which are covered in GST, we request that the Government pay salaries to all the employees corroborated by balance sheet and certified by CA.

Property Tax, Water & Sewerage Charges:

  1. There is an automatic increase of 15% in the water charges every year. This be deferred completely for at least 5 years.
  2. As there would be hardly any consumption/usage during the lockdown period, it is requested that the water & sewerage charges should be completely waived.
  3. The Property Tax for the year 2020-21 may please be waived off.

 

 Electricity Bills:

  1. The electric charges include a “Fixed Charges”(Demand Minimum Charges) component, which is like a fixed rental. This be exempted for the lockdown period, as has already been done by the Uttar Pradesh Govt.
  2. The bills of the lockdown period may be allowed to the paid after 6 months with no penalty.
  3. Reduction in commercial electricity Tariff by about 10% to 20% for a period of 5 years, on the lines of announcements made by Maharashtra, Punjab & other Electricity Regulatory Commissions of various states.

Local Taxes:

  1. The Local/Municipal taxes to be stayed for a period of one year starting from 1/4/20. This can be borne by the State Govt.
  2. The garbage collection fees charged from Hotels & Restaurant s should be exempted as all units stand closed due the  lock down 

Promotion:

This support is not required immediately, but post lockdown the Govt should promote & advertise our destinations extensively & encourage domestic tourism. All pending proposals with regard to infrastructure should be cleared at the earliest, for this sector to pick-up.

Bar license & VAT:

  1. Bar Licence fees paid for the year 2020-21 may be rolled over as advance for the year 2021-22.
  2. The quota for current and the next year may please be lifted as there is no business expected anyways.

Minimum Wages:

  1. Minimum wages in terms of VDA not to be increased of fixed for at least the next 2 years.

 

“There are some issues like reduction in GST on Hotels, Loan waivers and repayments which are a central Government subject. You are requested to get a special package for Himachal Pradesh as hospitality is a very big Industry here,”

Sanjay Sood urged.

Further, he assured that the association would extend its full support during these uncertain and hard times.

 

Misc News/Press Release

Himachal: 80% Voter Turnout in 2nd Phase of Panchayat Polls

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Second phase of Panchayat elections in himachal pradesh

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Election Commission informed that the elections for 1208 Gram Panchayats were held today in the second phase in which around 80 percent polling was registered.

Overall, 75 COVID-19 patients and persons in isolation cast their votes as per the standard operating procedures.

The highest polling has been registered in Nandpur Gram Panchayat of Nalagarh developmental block of Solan district where the voter turnout was reported to be 96 percent.

The poll was held peacefully and there was no report of any untoward incident in the state. The counting of votes for Pradhan, Up-Pradhan and members was under the process and the results were awaited till late evening. The counting of votes for Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti will be held on 22 January 2021 at block headquarters.

Election-related process and results have been uploaded for the general public on sechimachal.nic.in.

The election for third and final phase for 1137 Panchayats would be held on 21 January 2021.

The first phase of elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions in Himachal Pradesh was held in 1228 Gram Panchayats on January 17, 2021. The overall polling percentage in the first phase was reported to 77.50%.

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Bird Flu Confirmed in Dead Poultry Dumped Near Himachal Borders, Ban on Poultry Products Extended   

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Himachal Pradesh Extends Ban on poultry

Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Government has temporarily extended the ban on entry of poultry and poultry products into the State from neighbouring states for one more week. A notification to this regard was issued on January 18, 2021.

 The Government said that during the past few days, there had been incidences of dumping of dead poultry in the border areas of the State. Samples were collected from these dead birds, and disposed of the remaining birds as per protocol, it said. NIHSAD Lab, Bhopal, has confirmed Avian Influenza-H5N8 in the dumped birds.

Hundreds of dead poultry birds were found dumped along the Parwanoo-Solan stretch on the National Highway. The police was yet to identify culprits responsible.

However, the State Government said that the Flu has not been detected in the local poultry.

The State Government said that a “Bird Flu” outbreak was notified on January 6, 2021, in Pong Dam wetland of district Kangra. The count for migratory bird death due to the Flu had mounted to 4936 till January 18, 2021. On January 17, only 21 migratory birds died in the Pong Dam wetland area.

The State Government said a sharp decline was reported in death of migratory birds due to avian influenza outbreak in the Pong dam lake wildlife sanctuary.

Ten Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) of Wildlife Wing would continue to work in the wetland for collection and safe disposal of dead birds as per protocol till no mortality is recorded. 

Till January 18, 2021 outbreaks of Avian Influenza have been confirmed in 5 States for poultry birds and in 9 States for crows, migratory and wild bird.

Culling of poultry birds had to be taken in all the affected epicentres including CPDO, Mumbai. Culling operation of poultry in Haryana was also underway. The outbreak has is causing losses worth crores to poultry farmers. 

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447 Cases of Adverse Effect Including 3 in Himachal Reported Post COVID-19 Vaccination

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COVID-19-vaccination-adverse effect in himachal pradesh

Shimla– Amid skepticism over the COVID-19 vaccination, India has reported over 400 cases of adverse effect post-vaccination, informed the Ministry of Health. To be more specific, a total of 447 Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFIs) were reported on 16th Jan & 17th Jan’21.

Out of these, three required hospitalization. Of these, one was discharged from Northern Railway Hospital Delhi within 24 hours; one was discharged from AIIMS Delhi, and one is under observation in AIIMS Rishikesh and is being monitored.

Most of the AEFIs reported so far are minor like Fever, Headache, Nausea etc.

In Himachal Pradesh, about three cases of AEFIs were reported on day 1 of vaccination drive. These were reported from Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College Tanda, Kangra, Civil Hospital Paonta Sahib, and Maharishi Markandeshwar University Medical College, Solan.

In these cases, symptoms reported included dizziness, anxiety, nausea and shivering and persons recovered after management as per protocol, it was informed.

In Himachal, 2,499 health care workers were to be administered dose through 27 identified sites in the State on January 16. However, only 1535 healthcare workers could be vaccinated on the first day. It was 61 percent of this set target. The second round would be held today.  

Two types of COVID-19 vaccines have been supplied for the vaccination drive. These include Covishield vaccine (made by Serum Institute of India Ltd) that has been supplied to all States/UTs.

The second is Covaxin vaccine (made by Bharat Biotech International Ltd) that has been supplied to 12 States.

An Adverse Event Following Immunization (AEFI) is any unexpected medical occurrence which follows immunization. It may not be related to the vaccine or vaccination process. The Ministry had laid down protocols for reporting, immediate case management at vaccination session site, transportation and hospitalization and further care of such cases. Protocols are also in place for systematic investigation and causality assessment of serious AEFIs, the Ministry said.

India has vaccinated the highest number of persons on Day1 under its COVID19 vaccination program, the world’s largest such exercise.

Total of 2,24,301 beneficiaries have been vaccinated till today as per the provisional report.

The second day of the massive countrywide COVID-19 vaccination program was also conducted successfully. A total of 553 sessions were held in six States. As many as 17,072 beneficiaries were vaccinated on Day2, as per the provisional reports.

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