KATHMANDU, March 22: The government has decided to waive the electricity demand charges of the lockdown period for the hotel and restaurant industry that are hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. A cabinet meeting held recently took a decision to this effect.
Minister for Communications and Information Technology Parbat Gurung, who is also the government’s spokesperson, said this facility will be provided only to the hotels and restaurants that operate as a hotel industry and submit tax returns after regular renewal. He said that the demand charge of electricity to be paid by the hotel industry will be waived from March 22, 2020 to mid-September, 2020. Similarly, the demand fee from September to mid-February will be reduced by 50 percent.
Srijana Rana, president of Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), said that hoteliers were relieved by the exemption given by the government. Stating that the government has portrayed the hotel sector as a tourism industry, she said that some entrepreneurs have already paid the charge and have expected reconciliation of the fees by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). However, she said that it was not possible to say right now how the NEA would reconcile.
“The government's concessions and refinancing facilities to the tourism industry have encouraged entrepreneurs to move forward. It will also provide relief to entrepreneurs who had invested in the year 2020 and suffered a huge loss,” she said.
She said that most of the tourism entrepreneurs have not been able to get refinancing facilities even though the government has brought refinancing facilities for the affected tourism businesses.
Stating that there were some problems in the concept of refinancing, she complained that most of the tourism entrepreneurs were not able to reap benefits from the facility.
“Even now, tourists from many countries are trying to book hotels. However, as per the health protocols set by the Ministry of Health and Population, there are problems for them to enter Nepal and obtain visas. So it seems necessary for the government to focus on solving the problem,” she further said.