The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Tax brakes on Mumbai nights

Mumbai, Nov. 28: The city that never sleeps may soon have to hit the bed early.

Shaken by the Maharashtra government’s latest move to raise entertainment taxes by a whopping 400 to 800 per cent, Mumbaikars, known to carouse late into the night, could be forced to settle for more sedate stuff — within the confines of their homes.

Going to bars have become thrice as expensive; discos almost impossible. Cover charges for five star hotel discos like Enigma, at J W Mariott, could now go up to as much as Rs 5,000.

While the Cabinet has given the go-ahead for a 400 to 800 per cent hike in entertainment duty for all discos in Mumbai, beer bars featuring dancing girls will have to bear with a 300 per cent increase. Hikes have also been recommended for video game parlours and bowling alleys, which will have to shell out Rs 5,000 per lane, per month.

Though the move has been criticised by businessmen and their patrons, the government seems to be in no mood to budge. The change in the duty structures will make the government richer by Rs 18 crore, chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said while unveiling the plan.

The city discos, usually full to the brim on weekends, will now have to shell out a whopping Rs 1 lakh per month, four times more than the Rs 25,000 they were paying till now. The going would be even tougher for discos at five star hotels which will have to pay Rs 2 lakh per month, up eight times.

Though the hotels have not been officially notified as yet about the increase in entertainment taxes, there is already talk of hectic lobbying going on to bring down the levies. The issue has already been put in front of the hotel association, which will bring up the “injustice” before the government after receiving an official notification.

But the worst hit have been bar owners, who were fighting against the current charges. “This way many bars will be forced to shut down,” said Ravi Pal Singh, president of the Association of Hotels and Restaurants. Bars, he added, were already struggling to meet the hiked duties levied by the government recently.

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