Casinos have been a contentious issue which has rocked the political turf of Goa for over a decade now and its shunting has always featured in the manifesto of BJP is the preceding 2 elections. BJP’s patriarch in Goa and former Rakshamantri Manohar Parrikar was very vocal and aggressive with his relentless bashing towards the casinos so much so that he led protests against the same and used that as a weapon to win elections in 2012.
However, post 2012 BJP has been openly hobnobbing with the casino industry by giving them all sorts of privileges be it non-shifting from the Panaji jetty, permitting additional casino, renewing their licenses, securing business association for its Bhakts and now this camaraderie has reached to a different level when the debt trapped Goa Government has waived their dues to the tune of Rs 277 crores.
The whole state as we know is tagged as a debt trapped state with a whooping debt of almost 20,000 crores and with an absolute uncertainty as to its revival under the leadership of the most corrupt, directionless, visionless, Dr. Pramod Sawant, this waiver seems to be a finest example of the blatant abuse of authority by the cabinet at the cost of every citizen of this state, only to please their casino bosses towards whom their romance precedes their responsibility towards the AAM Janata.
Several industry stakeholders, prominent trade bodies like the CII, GCCI have voiced their objection to this move but the Government cares a damn.
Casinos have been a roaring business until the pandemic. Like every industry all over the world, this industry too has had to bear the brunt of the pandemic but that doesn’t mean that the Government selectively rewards them with this waiver and display their crony capitalism.This is nothing short of a daylight robbery. This is an insult to Goa and Goenkars who slog day night for their survival and pay taxes only to realize that their government has thought to selectively reward the casino lobby.
What is even more shocking is that the flamboyant Panaji MLA Mr. Babush Monserrate who is now a loyal Bhakt post July, 2019, and the one who vowed to shift casinos within 100 days of getting elected, has been a mute spectator, perhaps realizing that his hidden graves may open up the day he becomes vocal against BJP.
On the other hand, on May 15th, 2020, the Goa Government in order to curb government spending, suspended the lucrative Housing Building Advance Scheme, initiated in 1988 under which Government employees had the privilege of owning homes at subsidized interest rate. Now the Government employees will have to borrow loans at prevailing interest rates. Thus, this suspension is nothing short of a direct attack on government employees and their desire to own a home seems a difficult proposition altogether. Both these decisions clearly contradict each other and shows utter disrespect towards honest tax payers, Government employees.
GST @ 28% is levied on entry receipts at the casino and there is surely a logic behind taxing at such high rates because the revenue inflow is huge and this is more of a sin industry. Under such circumstances, it is appalling to see the Goa Government giving such privileges to this industry when it is the common man who pays for the sins of the Government while the Goa Government and the casino lobby have a jolly good time. 2022 is not far away when the BJP and its romantic partners will have to be shown the door and sent home forever.