UPDATE (10 NOV): Ports Minister Michael Lobo clarified that the waiver of INR 227 crore for casino operators is still pending and has not been approved by the Cabinet.
Eager to get back to business after a long break, Goa’s casinos are preparing to open their doors to the public as soon as possible. The pandemic induced lockdown forced many casinos to stay shut, which resulted in a loss of revenue both for the industry and the state government. After months of waiting, the government has finally allowed them to reopen with a 50 percent capacity from 1 November.
However, as the casinos have not been operating for the past eight months, the casino operators voiced their concerns regarding difficulty in paying the Annual Recurring Fee (ARF), to which the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant replied that the fees would now be collected on a monthly pro-rata basis according to the new fee structure. In doing so the state government will possibly waive off a total of INR 227.08 crore, which is good news for all casino operators.
This decision by the chief minister was met with scrutiny from the Home Department, as they expressed their concerns for allowing such fee restructuring pertaining to the casinos. They felt it would be unfair to the other sectors in the state who will likely demand similar concessions and advised the state against the decision.
“If this request is considered in isolation, then the financial implications of the waiver would be INR 175 crores (50 percentage of the ARF due). If this request is considered in addition to that listed at para 10 (a), then the combined financial implications for the waiver would be INR 277.08 crores,” the Home Department said. This would mean that the resultant revenue from ARF for this financial year would thus only be INR 72.92 crores as against INR 350 crores.
But, chief minister Pramod Sawant clarified that the waiver was temporary and the remaining sum would be collected from the operators at a later date. He explained that the decision was made so that the industry would have time to recover from its losses, which is still good news for the operators.
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