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I WOULD like to wish all Spice Business readers the best of luck for 2014. It is a New Year and perhaps a new dawn. There are some positive signs in the economy, which is growing faster than at any time since 2007. I just hope some of this energy rubs off on the hospitality sector. After several disappointing years we are due a change in fortune and perhaps 2014 will be the year when the tide turns in our favour. As you can see in this issue of the magazine the effects of

the recession are still being felt by our sector, with several restaurants closing down up and down the country, some of which having been in business for decades. However this has to be balanced by a growing number of new ventures that are starting up, many being backed by younger entrepreneurs and new, talented chefs, as well as longer established restaurateurs. There are green shoots of recovery to be seen and these need to be nurtured by the government. We will continue to press the case for a reduction in VAT for

the hospitality sector and to ask the government to look again at some of its policies. The planned rise in the minimum wage to £7 an hour will be a big burden for some restaurants at a time when their business is only just recovering. It might be best to delay this for a year. I have only just started to catch my breath after a very eventful

and exciting British Curry Awards. It was a tremendous honour to welcome the Prime Minster to the awards and I know this was much appreciated by everyone there. He not only toured the kitchens, speaking to the chefs, but he kindly agreed to present one of the awards. His speech, in which he promised to work with us to overcome the challenges we face, will have given great encouragement to the curry industry. It was great to see so many familiar faces there, and some

new ones too, and there was a great atmosphere in the room. The message I took away was that the curry industry is alive and well in our country. We have tough times ahead, but there is new blood, new ideas and a new enthusiasm coming through which will help sustain the legacy our forefathers have left us. The chef crisis is not going to go away overnight. We know

that. But the Prime Minister in his speech did agree to do what it takes to ensure we have the chefs we need and to help us develop a new generation of home grown chefs. We have 3

to hold the Prime Minister and the coalition government to honour this promise and adopt a more balanced approach to immigration policy. The Prime Minister also agreed to do what he could to address

some of the problems in Bangladesh, where many British Bangladeshis still have family and property. The political unrest is a great concern to all of us. We hope the violence and strife will end. It needs a new kind of politics, but it is hard to have faith that current political leaders in Bangladesh can follow a path of constructive dialogue and respect for parliamentary democracy. We need international fi gures like David Cameron to put pressure on all sides to take a different path - one that will lead to peace and prosperity for Bangladesh. The curry industry in this country is seeing some unfortunate

side effects of the crisis. We import a lot from the region, but we are seeing inconsistency in the supply and quality of goods such as seafoods and spices. This is bad for Bangladesh and bad for restaurants in the UK. If the situation does not improve we will have to shift to doing business with other countries. We have been very loyal to the land of our forefathers, but there is a limit to such loyalty and we may have to reconsider our position with respect to importing goods from Bangladesh. What a pity that would be. On a positive note this issue of Spice Business contains

news of numerous occasions where spice restaurants have raised money of charitable causes, or reached out and helped out schools and the community generally. There is much to be proud of in the ‘giving’ nature of our industry which perhaps sets us apart to some extent from others. Keep up the good work! n

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