The Bangalore Turf Club is guilty of cheating punters by deducting 28 percent as GST for every bet put out on the totalisator pool. The club is collecting this tax right from the day the GST was introduced last July and not paying it to the government. Instead, the club is paying only 28 percent of GST on the dividend and pocketing the remaining amount. The club is saying that it is depositing less but collecting more because in the event of the club being forced to pay 28 percent tax on the turnover, then the club will be left without money to pay it. The club also collects an additional five to six percent as their commission which means that the money that is available for distribution is about Rs 65 for every 100 rupees.
The club has filed a writ petition and is hoping to get the redress. What will happen then to the excess money collected from punters without enlightening them? Will they refund the money to the punters? How will they track the punters who had punched the ticket? How will they utilise this money? What justification will they give for cheating the punter without informing them of the existing system? The onus is on the club to print on the ticket the GST it is collecting, its commission and the value of the bet. Any other justification is untenable. Punters must be told that they are collecting the 28 percent tax and at the same disputing the matter in the court and if the verdict is in its favour, then it will help the sport in the long run. And that they need to make a sacrifice of paying a higher tax even the court rules that the GST is not on turnover but on the dividend. Any other explanation will be deemed unethical.
Any law can be disputed and contested in court. Before that, one must comply with the law if it remains a law and not reviewed by the court.
Is the turf club not guilty of blatant cheating of gullible public? What is the monitoring committee doing? What does the expert on tax in the monitoring committee feel? Why has the club not issued any Press Statement in this regard? Why is the club still misleading as the statement issued by the chairman of the club Harimohan Naidu to Deccan Herald on Thursday said: “Right now we are paying 28 percent on the turnover? Our GST case is in the court and our lawyer is hopeful that we will get a relief. Our turnover went down by 55 percent last season and that`s huge.” Really? Huge sums of public money are lying with the club and one hopes that the money is properly accounted for.
The Bangalore Turf Club is not known to be transparent in any of its actions. Its functionaries are taking the escape route of not answering any question or taking calls. They did not have the season beginning Press Conference which the Chairman said was a cost-cutting measure. About 20 cups of coffee and biscuits to explain the salient features of the season, the highs and lows of the prospectus, the problems that the club is confronting, how they will tackle the same, would have been enlightening to everyone interested in the sport wouldn`t have cost the club the moon? Or did they not have the Press Conference honestly to cut costs or they had no face to take the questions from the Press about their autocratic ways, anti-media policies et al. The turf club has so much to hide that it is impossible for any expert to do the cover-up job. This year the committee has really messed up things in a way that one is scared about the future of the sport despite the excellent support it receives from the patrons who receive nothing from the club for its enthusiasm. The club should have clarified all these issues bothering the club, but the mandarins believe that it is better to hide from the media and then blame it for all its problems.
The BTF is set to go up enormously when the new wage agreement is signed by the Welfare Society and the Syces Union. The BTF is expected to be in the region of about Rs 26,000 without any extra bills. Under such a steep rise, you can`t expect to get more owners into the sport. Even the existing ones are likely to make an exit. The cost of maintaining a horse is enormous in return for the pittance that one gets stake money for winning a race. The Bangalore Turf Club is never known for its public relations and ability to attract sponsorship as the efforts of the authorities is mainly to please its constantly warring members.
There is strife all around. The tote workers are planning to go on a strike in support of their demands. The tote workers in Bangalore are easily the best in the country and they have done a yeomen service by doing a wonderful job of ensuring that nearly Rs 2000 crores went through the tote windows for so many years. The collections may have come down and there may be a need for pruning the number. But it should be done in a democratic way and ensure minimal suffering. If there must be a cut, then it should begin from the top. Only the poorest of the fraternity should not be chosen to be victimized.
Chairman Harimohan Naidu was also quoted in Deccan Herald as saying: ``There is less money. We don`t want to splurge on anything unless it is actually necessary. The financial crisis will be our major worry,” The club can save a considerable amount by straightaway stopping the presentation of the cups and use the enormous amount saved for a better purpose. But the club mandarins will not think of this because their importance of being present in the paddock to present the trophy will be gone and nobody will recognise that they are the functionaries. The club can save more than Rs 50 lakhs on this count alone. Hyderabad Race Club has already stopped presenting the cups.
As they say, where there is a will there is a way. But BTC is hell-bent on going the wrong way! You can`t solve the problems by merely staring at it.