CHANDIGARH: Dining out is now a costly affair, with the recent imposition of a fresh service tax of 3.5% by the central excise and taxation department on air-condition restaurants and resto-lounge bars in the city. Already enduring the burden of 12.5% VAT on their food bills, the city residents are unhappy over the inclusion of service tax too.
Shocked at the enhanced food bill at one of his favourite restaurant-cum-lounge bars in Sector 26, an electronics trader from Sector 17, JPS Kalra, said, ''We had gone there for dinner. But after we enjoyed our regular dishes of mutton rogan josh, tandoori chicken and dal makhni, we were surprised to notice an increase of nearly 10% in our bill amount. When we inquired, we were told that a fresh service tax has been added to food and beverage items. The government should roll back this additional tax as other charges of VAT and excise are already very high.''
President of Chandigarh Hotels and Restaurants' Association Arvinder Pal Singh said, ''Fresh service tax of 3.5% on the food bill of a customer will not make much difference, but unauthorised charging of service tax of 10% by some of the food joints will definitely pinch him. The UT excise and taxation officials must check this menace.''
Anil Mittal, a city resident, said, ''Last Saturday, we had dined at a Sector 35 hotel. To our surprise, the bill was Rs 1,000 more than the earlier ones for the same items.' Similar views were expressed by a young couple who had dined at a resto-lounge bar in Sector 9. Prashant Sood, a senior executive with a multinational firm, said, ''We, along with four of our family friends, had gone there for dinner. After a chilled beer, we ordered tandoori chicken