The Financial Express

Bangladeshi restaurant owners press for reopening

| Updated: May 25, 2021 14:00:50

Bangladeshi restaurant owners press for reopening

Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association (BROA) on Saturday urged the government to allow them to resume their business from Sunday maintaining health guidelines.

They also threatened to take to the streets if the authorities don't allow them to resume operations of eateries across the country immediately.

Besides, they demanded easy term loans under SME financing from the incentive package announced by the government last year to help them recover from pandemic-induced losses.

The demands were placed at a press conference at the association's office in the city's Purana Paltan area.

Presided over by BROA president Hazi Md Usman Gani, BROA secretary-general Imran Hasan, vice president Shah Sultan Khokon and first joint-secretary general Firoz Ahmed Suman, among others, also spoke at the programme.

Presenting the written statement, Mr Hasan said there were about 60,000 hotels and restaurants across the country with at least 3.0 million people working directly.

He said a significant number of the workers became unemployed due to Covid-induced restrictions during the last 14 months but none of them got any financial support from the government's incentive package.

"Under such circumstances, we demand reopening our hotels and restaurants throughout the country from Sunday (today) with strict adherence to health guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus," he said.

"We will even agree if the government lets us open the restaurants keeping 50 per cent of the space vacant," Mr Hasan added.

He also said the authorities permitted restaurants to continue take-away, parcel, and online delivery services but only 2.0 to 3.0 per cent of the restaurants were capable of offering such services.

"If the government does not allow resumption of operation of restaurants by Sunday, we may stage protest rally in front of the National Press Club with kitchen tools in our hands," the BROA secretary general said.

For the survival of the restaurant industry, BROA leaders urged the government to provide collateral-free or long-term loans to the sector from the incentive package for the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector.

They also called for slashing surcharge on utility bills of the restaurants and collecting VAT and tax in a flexible way.

All the restaurants in the country were remaining shut as the government imposed restrictions on April 05 to stem the second wave of coronavirus transmission which will end on May 23 as the authorities had not yet extended the lockdown until the filing of this report at around 6:30 pm on Saturday.

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