Goa trains tax gun on casino, realty sectors to meet shortfall

Worried over its losses due to the suspension of mining activities, the Goa government is now going for new sources for tax revenue — the casino and infrastructure industry.

According to officials, the state government is planning to increase taxes on casino businesses and other infrastructure activities to recover a revenue loss of about Rs 500 crore it had to bear due to the ban on mining.

"We are looking at alternate options that may include hike in the taxes on gambling businesses, infrastructure to recover our annual revenue. We are yet to finalise the plans though," an official said.

Goa earned a revenue of around R950 crore from the mining last year. In October, mining activities were completely suspended after a Supreme Court ruling. The government official said that the state has already got around R450 crore from mining in the first six months of this financial year. "Now, we have to recover the gap," he said.

The move to hike the taxes may project the present state government as anti-casino industry.

The Manohar Parrikar's government in March had hiked the annual licence fee of offshore casinos to R6.5 crore a year from R5 crore. Similarly, for onshore casinos in five-star hotels, the fee was hiked from R15 lakh to R2.5 crore a year.

"It is not against a particular industry. We are not going to hike taxes to the extent of hurting some businesses. But, we have to look at other options to meet the shortfall of revenues," the official said.

The ban on iron ore mining in the state was first announced by the Goa government in September on the basis of the findings of Justice M B Shah Commission on illegal mining, which was commissioned by the Centre.

Later in October, the Supreme Court extended the ban for one month till a court-appointed Central Empowered Committee submitted its report.

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