The new choice came into impact from February 1. “From February 1, all coffee shops across the country have to pay RO5 per square metre per month. Earlier, these coffee shops were paying RO1 per square metre per year for outdoor seating. The rate hikes have been introduced after a long time. Since 2003, it was RO1 per square metre per year,” a Muscat Municipality official stated.
The official stated that the new choice is getting implemented by the Ministry of Finance. “It is not a decision that is being implemented in Muscat only.” He stated that most of the coffee shops have restricted indoor seating region and they spot tables and chairs outdoors in public region to accommodate. “So if you are using public space, you have to pay for it. It has been more than a decade since the rates were increased,” the official stated.
The new choice has got several coffee shops to eliminate their outside seating arrangements in public space. A coffee shop owner in Ruwi stated, “The hike is large. I had 3 tables and was paying RO10 per square metre a year. Now, the present choice will price me RO60 per month which functions about RO720 per year.
“Margins in this business are very less between 10bz and 20bz. We have four staff. We have to pay their salaries, undertake other expenses. We used to keep chairs and table outside so that customers could sit and enjoy their food. After this new rule we have removed all chairs and tables and now they have to stand and eat.”
The municipality official stated, “The decision has been taken after reviewing all aspects.” Another coffee shop owner stated, “The new rates are quite high. But since customers are important, we will continue to have outdoor seating, as we have only a small indoor seating area which is filled to capacity most of the times.”
Information Source: Muscat Daily