GST on horse trading and racing
GST on horse racing may not be a lucrative idea but GST on horse-trading will be a great revenue generator. I don’t know whose original idea is it. But I love the idea of imposing a heavy levy on horse-trading.
This is going to be a big source of income for the States, particularly for the smaller States where such trading is almost a routine affair.
For us, GST on horse racing may not be that productive; but it may serve a benevolent purpose to save our ponies. If we encourage pony racing, pony- polo or Sagol Kangjei with the permission of betting, there is a chance for reviving the pony games.
From this perspective, CM’s recent idea of creating 5 Polo grounds in five districts is a welcome step. Again the entire Lamphelpat area may be declared as a pony reserved area, where only water conservation, pisciculture and pony grazing are allowed. The entire Lamphelpat may be restored as an actual lake where water, pony and fishes are the resources. Chief Minister is perhaps thinking in that line.
Horse racing and betting were in vogue long ago in the Hapta Kangjeibung before the Second World War. Hapta Kanjeibung , the name itself indicates that it was a weekly pony jamboree. But the size of Hapta Kangjeibung has now shrunken. If possible it may be restored to its original size for holding the erstwhile Sagolkangjei and pony race.
Cess on both Horse trading and racing may seriously be considered by the competent authority. Hopefully, most of the States will agree including Manipur. All those who are in active politics are aware of the enigmatic existence of horse-trading; buying and selling of MLAs is still a reality; quite often deals are struck through agents or able leaders.
Suppose you have 32 MLAs in a 60 Member Assembly. By law, only 12 MLAs can be made Ministers out of 32. The remaining 20 become restless and start hobnobbing with one another which is the beginning of such trading. A few may be appeased by offering Speakership, Deputy Speakership, Chairmanships, etc. The option for Parliamentary Secretariships is also done away with by the Apex Court.
From this perspective, Horse –trading may be given a free run for tax purposes. This may also provide an opportunity to convert black money to white. The source of the money involved will not be questioned or traced; once it comes in the open, simply GST will be imposed, that’s all. No other tax or liability will be involved. The giver must pay 12 percent GST and the taker 28 percent. But an honest declaration of the amount involved is required.
Stakeholders may impose more exorbitant cess on horse trading and a reasonable one on horse racing. But the revenue from both should directly go to the State Treasury; meaning it should be State GST. It should be on the pattern of liquor and fuel. Certainly, the horse-trading cess will enrich the poor States like Manipur and Arunachal. In fact, poor States should explore more alternative revenue generation mechanisms.
Horse-trading may be for dislodging the Government or replacing the leadership. Even if the object fails, the GST paid shall not be refunded. Once you have made the payment, that is final, there will be no refund system. Whether the stakeholders and investors are satisfied with the outcome or not, it has nothing to do with the tax paid. They can’t also approach the Court.
Lok Pal at the Centre and Lok Ayukta at the State level may be made the arbiter or custodian of the horse-trading system as it is going to be outside the ambit of Corruption. It may be treated as a mere business for change and continuity of Government. The timeframe may be fixed for such maneuvers; otherwise, it may lead to wastage of time and energy of the State.
Honestly, the anti-defection law or the 10th Schedule is meant for eliminating political defection. But quite often it is being used or misused to facilitate defection. Either the law is faulty or the people handling or interpreting it have failed the law. Whatever may be the case, horse-trading must continue for the revenue of the State.
Many cry that Anti-Defection Law is not in tune with democratic principles. It curtails freedom of selection; it dismantles individual rights; it discourages principled dissent (going against Party Whip); it restrains the liberal approach. Ultimately it makes you surrender your freedom of choice, individualism, and self-righteousness just for the sake of your Party and political stability.
This Law which was brought in 1985 and rejuvenated in 2003, is still unable to put an end to the selling and purchase of elected Representatives for making and un-making of Governments. The basic issue with the Law is - the Speaker is not neutral and there is no deadline to decide on defection cases. Besides, judicial pronouncements in matters of defection remained flexible.
The Tenth Schedule may continue or not but horse trading must continue. Rather it should be encouraged provided the transactions are transparent and taxed properly.In Mumbai Bourse horses are sold at mind-boggling rates; it is a huge revenue loss as GST is not yet applicable. GST Council, please act fast.