Aggrieved Percept rants against Goa govt. for alleged 6 crore debt
In the wake of announcing its exit from Goa and relocating to Pune, Sunburn organizer Percept awaits dispute resolution on Entertainment Tax levied on Complimentary Tickets and irrational Police Bandobast charges and demands Rs 6 crore as debt owed to them by Goa state government. Percept has issued a statement in support of its alleged claims.
“We have large amounts to recover from the State of Goa and are anxiously awaiting meetings and appeal hearings to find resolutions to the irrational Police Bandobast charges and Entertainment Tax levied on the Complimentary tickets,” said a Percept Spokesperson.
He alleges, "Over the past 4 years, Percept has repeatedly written to the Government of Goa requesting for a resolution on a number of pending matters including:
- Request for a reversal of the revised Police Bandobast charges levied for the Sunburn events held in 2013, 2014 & 2015 and a refund of excess charges paid under protest for the respective years.
- Request to grant Sunburn the exemption of the Tax on Complimentary tickets (up to 5% of the capacity).
- Refund of SLPC fees of Rs.50 lakhs of Windsong Music Festival held in December 2012.
- Payment of the balance amount of Rs. 3.03 crores due to Percept for the Lusofonia Games held in 2014.
- Revision of a Single Window process ensuring SLPC permission and fees paid to be sufficient and no further permission or fees to be paid to any other department.
The spokesperson adds, "In the year 2012, considering the positive impact and popularity of Sunburn along with the intent to facilitate and encourage such tourism events in Goa, the Government of Goa constituted a “single window clearance” procedure through the formation of a “State Level Permission Committee” (SLPC) that would consider various organisers’ plans / presentation and grant permissions. The committee includes the Tourism Secretary, Director Tourism, SP Traffic Police, SP Police Law & Order, Head of Fire Department, Collector, Deputy Collector, Head of Health & Safety Department and Head Pollution Control. However, the SLPC became counter-productive as it resulted in inordinate delays in obtaining permissions, duplication of permissions and fees. In spite of putting in applications a year in advance for Sunburn, in December 2015 the Sunburn festival started 5 hours late on at 1900 hours instead of 1400 hours as scheduled. Percept had repeatedly written to the Government requesting for the Single Window Process to be revised to initiate timely and speedy grant of permissions from a single window and a reversal of fees."
The Windsong Music Festival organised by Percept in December 2012 was the first event that was executed after the formation of SLPC under Tourism Ministry and seems Percept paid up a deposit fee of Rs. 50 lakhs for obtaining the requisite permissions. It's spokesperson claims, "Despite of being assured in August 2012 a single window clearance for the event this never happened and in September Percept was asked to apply for permissions through different channels. In October 2012 Percept was told to go back through the single window clearance for the permissions. Percept finally got the permissions and licenses for Windsong only on the day of the festival i.e. 24th December 2012, around 6.00 pm. For an event that started at 4.00 pm. This entire process led to huge delays which further led to poor promotions and publicity for the event, resulting in low awareness and turnout due to which box office sales were as low as 224 tickets only. The entire venue was empty throughout the festival except for the complimentary passes provided as per the advise of the government. Given the massive losses faced, Percept urged the Government for the refund of Rs. 50 lakhs which is yet awaited.
￼Percept successfully completed the cultural ceremony of Lusofonia Games Goa 2014, but the “Organizing Committee" penalized Percept for Rs. 21 lakhs. Percept followed up on the cause of the penalty and the enquiry panel later released Percept of any penalty with a directive that the entire balance amount of Rs. 3.03 crores be paid to Percept. In spite of rigorous follow ups over two and a half years, this amount is yet to be paid to Percept by the Goa Government."
Percept further says, "In the last 9 years we have paid every single penny of the Entertainment Tax levied by the department on paid tickets. In fact there is a refund due of approx. Rs.50 lacs for the excess taxes paid for Sunburn 2014 & Sunburn 2015. The current claim by the department is on the Complimentary Invites issued by Percept to the VVIPs, Government Officials, Local authorities and their guests are neither complimentary at par with the tickets sold nor have any value attached to it. The Assessment Officer raised a dispute with respect to the complimentary tickets / vouchers issued by us. We have requested for reversal and the appeal is pending before the Hon’ble Administrative Tribunal, Panaji Goa."
Earlier last year it was agreed that a review would be held by the SLPC where Percept’s objections would be heard to review the matter fairly. However, Percept claims no review was conducted all through 2015 and 2016 even as it awaited the opportunity to present their case and mutually resolve the dispute. The spokesperson adds, "While Percept was waiting for the review to be conducted, they received further bills from the Traffic Police department for the years 2011 and 2012 as supplementary charges due to alleged audit issue demanding additional sums of payment (this is over and above amounts paid by Percept respectively towards Traffic police Bandobast charges in these years). For Sunburn Festival 2015, higher number of manpower was deployed without Percept’s consent and the bandobast charges from Calangute to Vagator was levied on the company Percept paid the charges under protest, and submitted their objections clearly establishing that these increments in numbers and rates were completely adhoc and without rationale, prior intimation or approval or requirement, therein appealing that these incremental charges be reversed and their monies refunded."
Even as the Tourism Department of Goa have asked Percept to remit an amount of Rs. 84 lakh for Police Bandobast and Traffic Management and Rs. 21 lakh for Service Tax for the Sunburn Festivals held in Goa state from the period 2011 to 2014, Percept has been persistent in its efforts to recover dues totalling to over Rs. 6 crores from the Government of Goa since 5 years. This includes recoverable deposits of Rs. 1.25 crore towards Sunburn, Rs. 3.03 crore for Lusifonia, Rs. 50 lakhs for Windsong and Rs. 51 lakhs Entertainment Tax refund for the year 2014 & 2015.
Percept has earlier this year approached and requested the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Goa to consider their request in relation to the above subject matter and the matter is pending before him for a decision.
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