Hike in commercial LPG prices puts hoteliers in a bind

Price has been raised by ₹1,000 since the start of the year

Wednesday’s hike of over ₹101.50 for the commercial cooking gas cylinder has dealt a blow to the hotel industry, especially small eateries, desperately trying to stay afloat following the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since the start of the year, the price has been raised by ₹1,000 while it has been offset by a meagre reduction of ₹187. The biggest hike of ₹266 kicked in last month.

“Now I have to buy a cylinder for around ₹2,150, including the tip to the delivery boy. But I can hardly increase the price of tea as it will not go down well with customers. The government seems hell bent to disrupt the lives of small and marginal traders,” says Ajo George, who runs the coffee shop Chayakoppa at Jos Junction.

G. Jayapal, State general secretary, Kerala Hotel and Restaurants Association (KHRA), says the majority of small and medium eateries are not in a position to hike prices despite the gas cylinder turning costlier by ₹367 in less than two months and around ₹1,000 this year.

“They are scared that even a marginal increase in price will strip them of what little business they have now. It has been our long-standing demand to bring down GST of the commercial cooking gas cylinder from 18% to 5% in parity with the domestic cooking gas cylinder at least in the case of small and medium players,” he says.

The KHRA is now planning to organise a Parliament march in coordination with their counterparts from across the country to bring their plight to the notice of the rulers.

LPG agencies are a worried lot as well with their agency commission not having been revised in the past four to five years. “With the increased price, we have to pay around ₹4 lakh up front to oil companies for a load of commercial cooking gas of about 216-220 cylinders. Since the agencies lift loads almost on a daily basis, finding funds for that and operational expenses is posing a serious challenge,” says a staff with a city-based gas agency.

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