Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries seeks stimulus to tide over COVID-19 crisis
The Amusement industry plays a major role in creating employment both directly and through ancillary and other related industries like hospitality, food & beverage, transport industry and more
Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries (IAAPI), an apex body representing the interests of Amusement Parks, Theme Parks, Water Parks and Indoor Amusement Centre in India, are seeking an urgent stimulus package for Amusement Industry to sail out from the COVID-19 impact, and have made a representation to this effect. The Amusement industry is generating approx. 80,000 direct employment and contributes to the government exchequer significantly. It also forms a major part of social Infrastructure which plays a vital role in nation-building as it offers active outdoor recreation for kids, youth and families.
As per the advisory issued by Heeralal Samariya, IAS, Secretary – Ministry of Labour & Employment, Government of India, IAAPI has requested all its members not to terminate employees and to pay the wages and salaries of permanent and contractual labours without any deductions for the month of March 2020 and will continue to do so till the lockdown period.
The Amusement industry plays a major role in creating employment both directly and through ancillary and other related industries like hospitality, food & beverage, transport industry and more. It helps to create an economic multiplier effect accelerating the growth of the economy. The amusement industry is in dire straits due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As a consequence, the amusement industry is looking at pan India financial distress and bankruptcies, closure of businesses and massive job losses.
Ajay Sarin, Chairman - Indian Association of Amusement Parks and Industries (IAAPI), said, “As a responsible industry, we understand, respect and support the decision of the Government and the Local bodies in curtailing the spread of COVID -19 and all amusement parks have been closed. Thus, in view of the same, conducting business in such an environment has become a major concern and industry is now struggling for its survival. Amusement Industry is highly capital intensive, seasonal, high operational & manpower costs considering the safety and security of visitors.”
Rajeev Jalnapurkar, Vice Chairman - IAAPI and CEO - Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad said, “The industry employs over 80,000 people directly, hires more than 5,000 people seasonally, indirectly supports various other industries, besides lakhs of other including local communities. We have made huge investments, possess the large infrastructure and provide large employment, but we have been denied industry status. Even after the lockdown is lifted, there is no clarity from the government on how it will ensure our survival and revival."
The industry has lost it biggest peak season which generates approx. 45% to 55% EBITDA and will be followed by a long offseason. After lockdown, the amusement industry will be further impacted since families will avoid going to a crowded place and travel will be restricted as our industry attract kids, youth and family in large numbers. The Indian amusement industry strives on 75% visitors from middle and lower-middle-class strata of the society which will be under tremendous stress post lockdown.
The amusement industry envisages normalcy after about 8 to 10 months for the patrons to regain trust and confidence and start flocking the amusement parks.
The amusement park industry is on the verge of collapse and seeks an instant emergency decision to rescue and sail the entire amusement industry from the prevailing turbulent environment. The only way this can happen is by reducing fixed operating expenses significantly in the immediate term until consumption in the sector bounces back and the economic activity revives. With almost no revenues, due to suspension of operations as a consequence of the pandemic, amusement park industry is running out of working capital and is finding it difficult to meet its financial obligations such as staff salaries, advance tax, GST, PF, ESI, and other state levies, loan interest and instalment payments, etc.
In the light of the same, our representation to the Government is as follows: -
• Complete GST holiday for 12 months: To make the entry prices economical to attract the patrons, complete holiday for 12 months (Central and State level) is sought for, also as with almost no revenues, there is hardly going to be any GST, as the revival of business may take time.
• Deferment of fiscal statutory compliance deadlines: Deferment for 6 months in payment of direct or indirect taxes of all statutory dues like advance payment of taxes, PF, ESIC, etc. at the central government level or state government level.
• Waiver of customs duties on import of spare parts: Waiver on custom duties on import of spare parts to bring down the repair and maintenance cost.
• Reduction of effective rate of interest on loans from financial institutions: Reduction by 200 basis points in effective interest rate being charged by financial institutions on term loans, working facilities and other facilities with immediate full transmission for working capital to reduce the burden on cash outflows.
• A moratorium of 12 months on payments to financial institutions: 12 months moratorium on instalments of principal and interest payments on loans and working capital from financial institutions besides a doubling of working capital limits on interest-free and collateral-free terms.
• Fiscal support for salaries: Support fund for 12 months on the lines of MNREGA to support basic salaries with direct transfers to affected amusement industry employees.
• Concessional Pricing for Water and Electricity: Provision of water and electricity to the amusement industry for 6 months on concessional and subsidised rates.
• Lower Rate of Income Tax and Early Settlement of Income tax Refunds: To enhance the cash inflows and reduce the cash outflows to support.
• To take care of the financial burden, requesting Employee State Insurance Corporation to pay the entire wages of the employees of those units that are covered under ESI for the period our country is under lockdown. As COVID-19 has caused a medical disaster ESI is very well justified in meeting this commitment of employees.
The amusement industry which is an integral part of the Indian tourism industry is still in its nascent stage and in the prevailing turbulent environment, it needs the support of the Government now more than ever to tide over the current predicament and enable to contribute to the society and the country.