Don’t burn your hands with Sunburn

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
31 December 2012 00:39 IST

It is becoming crystal clear now that organizers of Sunburn, Asia’s biggest music festival, managed to evade major share of entertainment tax last year. And if the tax collectors of Commercial Tax department had not tightened their reins, history would have been repeated. But the officials could not take a risk this year after HCN TV channel brought the hidden reality to light as the state is presently struggling to raise additional tax revenue in the light of huge revenue loss due to mining crisis. If the crowd crosses a lakh, the state should not earn less than Rs 10 crore this year.

Last year, the Sunburn organizers had paid only Rs 1.16 crore, for the crowd of little over 10,000. But Percept managing director Shailendra Singh is on record that nearly one lakh turned out for Sunburn last year. Even if it means 90,000, the revenue collection from entertainment tax should have been not less than Rs 10 crore. It means it was a tax evasion of almost 90 per cent!

Percept said the crowd would be almost 2.5 lakh this year. After HCN broke the tax evasion news, the commercial tax department beefed up its vigilance on ticket sale by deploying more officers. The teams were seen standing and monitoring the ticket counters at the venue. They brought a figure of 11,500 music lovers buying season tickets at the rate of Rs 8855 for all the three days. The daily tickets had different rates – Rs 3450 on the first day, Rs 4600 on the second day and Rs 6900 on the last day. And there were VIP tickets priced at around Rs 15,000.

The department officials are yet to verify how many tickets were sold on each day at the venue. In addition, tickets were made available at different outlets in Goa as well as outside, while promoting the event through national and international media. The event being a high profile affair, it is obvious that it would have more on-line sale than the actual counter sale.

Till now, the counter sale at the venue has been hardly 21,500 for all the three days. Even a common man would visualise that the estimated crowd was not beyond this or little more. Of course, the tax revenue of this crowd itself has touched nearly Rs two crore. It is to be seen whether the commercial tax officials work efficiently and selflessly to gather proper number of ticket sale when chief minister Manohar Parrikar is desperate to raise additional tax revenue to mop up the estimated revenue shortfall of around Rs 350 crore.  

It is also an acid test for the Sunburn organizers either to pay all the taxes judiciously and build goodwill for the coming years or admit that Sunburn actually doesn’t pull crowd in lakhs but only in thousands. In that case, it does not become Asia’s biggest music festival but like any other normal music festival.

But if there is no much revenue and still Sunburn remains Asia’s biggest festival, then it would simply mean that the Parrikar government is no different from Digambar Kamat government. The underhand dealings continue, no matter who rules Goa…

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is the Editor of goanews.com. He has been earlier the Editor of Sunaparant (Konkani daily) and Editor-in-Chief of Pruden (TV channel). His collection of selective editorials of Sunaparant has been published as 'Goff'. He writes brief thoughts as EdiThought for goanews.com, but not on regular basis.

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