The Left Front’s disinvestment programme took a beating in the state-run Great Eastern Hotel case, when two of its premier restaurants pulled down their shutters, barely a month after they were handed over to a private entrepreneur.
Two months ago, state tourism minister Dinesh Dakua announced that the government would be able to earn revenue by letting out two “almost-defunct” restaurants — Jade Garden and Shahenshah — to a private party.
The two restaurants were let out to J.K. International for three months on a rent of Rs 77,000 a month. “The sudden closure of two restaurants is definitely a major blow to us, since we are passing through a severe funds crisis these days. Moreover, we have already taken a hefty amount as advance from the private agency,” said Great Eastern member-secretary Jagannath Bag.
On Wednesday, Bag said that the firm had suddenly closed down the restaurants on October 31 without informing the hotel authorities. Jyotirmoy Bose, one of the partners of the firm, said that poor upkeep and lack of infrastructure had led to the closure of the restaurants. “The flow of customers has not improved at all since we took over the management in the first week of last month. Now, we are left with no option but to close them down,” he added.
The hotel has also dropped its plan to hand over its 50-seater coffee shop, on the ground floor, to a private agency and, instead, run it independently after renovation.
According to Bag, the government has already sanctioned Rs 3 crore for the remaining six months of the current financial year to help the authorities tide over the present funds deadlock.
“We will disburse the staff salaries by Friday,” Bag said, adding that the hotel requires nearly Rs 40 lakh every month to pay the salaries of its 460 permanent employees and another 40 on contract. In addition, the authorities require another Rs 20 lakh per month to pay the electricity bill and purchase raw material.
Bag also announced that the hotel authorities would drastically revise its room and food tariff from next month to rope in more customers.