Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 10th 2014 Contents A11
August 10, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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Poornima means the effulgent fullmoon. Guru is One
who removes darkness and delusion from the heart
and illumines it with the higher wisdom. The moon
and the mind are interrelated, as object and image.
On this day, the moon is full, fair and cool, its light
pleasant and peaceful; the light of the mind too has to
be pleasing and pure. In the firmament of your heart,
the moon is the mind. Sensual desires and worldly
activities are the clouds, thick and heavy which mar
your joy at the light of the moon. Let the strong breeze
of love scatter the clouds away and confer on you the
cool glory of moonlight. When devotion shines full,
the sky in the heart becomes a bowl of beauty and life
is transformed into a charming avenue of Ananda
(bliss). That beauty of heart, that bliss in life can be
won through the mind, if the lesson of this day is
remembered and realised.
What is the significance
of Guru Poornima?
explains to us today.
Just as wholesome food gives health and strength to
the body, prayer purifies the mind and strengthens
the spirit. - Baba
4x4, 6x6, 8x8
Saran Sampath Ltd
From Page A10
punters to bet with them.
So it is a serious problem because
our volume of betting is dropping and
expenses remain or are getting high-
er. It is not economically viable, hence
the reason why so many betting shops
have shut down.
What has been the response by the
board to your (proprietors of private
betting shops) plight?
We have complained to the BLB say-
ing, "Look, let s get together and get
a formula for a simple flat tax paid
yearly instead of this burdensome ten
per cent on every bet placed. In that
way, we would be able to mitigate the
underground betting and to a certain
extent be able to streamline our busi-
ness, and the board can budget them-
selves on the basis of knowing exactly
how much tax would be collected each
year. In a way, they like the sugges-
tion. But the figure they want to charge
the betting shops is totally unrealistic.
How much are they asking for?
They are asking double for what we
are recommending---we recommended
$2 million per year, per pool, as the flat
tax. The BLB is saying that is too small,
and they want a total of $35 to $40
million a year. Now that cannot work.
In terms of employment and gen-
erating revenue how are the pools
Many betting shops have closed.
Right now we have only 11, and more
may close down. I can assure you peo-
ple have lost their jobs and right now,
with 11 shops, the board does not realise
the severity of the problem.
The shops employ 750 people and
indirectly another 250.
Couldn t it be argued that if the
Due to ten per cent turnover tax
Punters going underground
...to place illegal bets shops where shut down, it would be no big thing
if that happens...
Right now these betting shops are the bread basket
that is keeping local horse racing alive. We contribute
between $16 and $18 million per annum and that
money is used to sustain the industry. If they don t
have tax that is being paid by us, there is no doubt
the Arima Race Club would be forced to close down
themselves. That is how serious it is.
Do you think the board is acting on their own
or they have to wait on the Government before act-
No. Based on their terms of reference they can act
on their own. If there is anything over and above
their limit they will have to get Government approval.
But so far, they have been acting on their own.
Is the board trying to run you all out of busi-
No. I don t think it is deliberate. I think they do
not know what they are doing. They are unaware of
the problems in this industry.
Are the bookmakers represented on the BLB?
Again, the legislation requires a member of the
T&T Bookmakers Association to sit on the board. I,
Peter George, as president of the association sat on
the board for approximately nine years. Last year, I
resigned because in my opinion, sitting on the BLB
was a waste of time. The association is not repre-
I wrote to the relevant authorities and I think I
copied the line minister who is the Honourable Vasant
Bharath, that we are not interested in sitting on the
Actually, Minister Bharath had many meetings
with us and he is really trying to be helpful, but it
is a kind of delicate situation in terms of the agreement
between the board and the betting shops. So he is
between the devil and the deep blue sea. I must com-
mend the minister for trying, but no improvement
has been found.
Mr George, how long can the 11 surviving shops
continue to carry on in this present scenario before
the death of the industry, as you would say?
Well, Clevon, unless the law is changed, the demise
of the private betting shops may go first. I would
say in two, three to four years from now, there would
be no private betting shops if the existing law remains.
Whereas, if the law changes to allow for a simple
reasonable one flat annual tax, hopefully the private
betting shops may survive. If not, local racing would
not survive because they would have to close unless
the Government supply them with a lot of money.
And, Clevon, this law itself is bad law.
There is no ten per cent turnover tax nowhere in
the world, except maybe one country which I cannot
remember at this time. What the board wants to do
is to place computers in all the private betting shops
so that they can quantify exactly how much money
is taken by every pool and how much tax they were
supposed to pay.
They want to bring in computers from a state
enterprise to put in private business. That is totally
unconstitutional, but they say they could do it and
I think they are proceeding with it, but it is not going
to be that easy as we are going to take action against
Mr George, isn t there any way you all can make
private betting shops more attractive to bring back
the punters who have gone underground and who
are now betting on sports from foreign places?
The only answer is to drop the ten per cent tax...
that is the only way we can survive, and we give
punters all the benefits they are accustomed to.
The BLB is of the opinion the private betting shops
are not paying the right tax and that is absolutely
What about the Arima Race Club?
Local racing will die even if we continue to pay
the ten per cent tax, unless they remove from those
facilities in Arima. It is derelict, the conditions are
terrible including the paddock, the place hot and
sweaty, and its customer service needs to be improved.
Of course there have been some improvements,
but conditions are not up to standard.
So what is the answer?
I think that local horse racing could be a very nice
and successful industry but it is going to fail in Arima.
What they need to do is make representations to the
Government to resuscitate Caroni, which was the
original plan for a central facility. A lot of the infra-
structural work is still there and in fairly good shape.
The ARC (Arima Race Club) can sell its 70 acres
of land to a private developer, use that money to
continue finishing Caroni and any shortfall, the Gov-
ernment can do a soft loan and build a nice facility
down there at Caroni.
That was a very bad mistake that former PM
George Chambers made in stopping Caroni because
at that time we already had $57 million in the ground.
The Government has a role to play in the survival
of horse racing.
"They want to bring
in computers from a
state enterprise to
put in private
business. That is
they say they could
do it and I think they
are proceeding with
it, but it is not going
to be that easy as
we are going to take
action against that."
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