Friday, April 1, 2011

Union ministers question tax waiver for WC

New Delhi: The government’s decision to give a Rs 45-crore tax waiver to the ICC for the World Cup has been questioned by some ministers, including sports minister Ajay Maken, who felt the cash-rich cricket body did not need it and such a step should have been taken to promote other sports.

Maken, supported by minister for poverty alleviation Selja and information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni, raised questions when the matter of waiver came up at the Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Thursday, sources said on Friday.

The sources said the sports minister forcefully highlighted that while such sops were being given to cricket, which is already cash-rich sport, the funds for his ministry had been slashed. He batted for more support to non-cricket sports, saying they also needed to be taken care of and promoted through financial help, the sources said.

While arguing his case, Maken pointed out that his ministry was planning to organise Panchayat-level sports events aimed at promoting sporting activities at the grassroots level which needed financial support, they said. Maken was supported by Selja, who felt that his point was valid and needed to be considered. Soni also backed Maken. She went on to question why private electronic media was being barred from covering the World Cup, referring to the stand-off between the broadcasting media and the ICC.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, who is also ICC President, was present during the meeting but did not say anything, the sources said.

Proponents of the tax exemption, including Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel, however, argued that the law provided for such a measure and not granting it would amount to violation of the law.

The income tax exemption was granted to the ongoing cricket World Cup as it qualified criteria specified under the amendment of the Income Tax Act, 1961, in 2005 in wake of ICC Championship Trophy 2006.

To avail the tax exemption, an event has to be recognised by a global body governing the sport and there should be participation of more than two nations. Moreover, the specified income has to be notified by the government. The tax exemption will be on the income arising in India from the ICC World Cup 2011 to the subsidiaries of the ICC, only where the contractual obligation to bear the income tax liabilities is on these entities,” Soni told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

The exemption, however, will not cover the revenues of the global cricket body from sponsorships and telecast rights, which account for 72 per cent its total income. PTI

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