The Goa civic corporation Wednesday upped the annual trade tax for casinos nearly seven times over, the mayor of the city said.
In its annual budget presented at the Town Hall, the municipal corporation of the city of Panaji has hiked the annual trade tax from Rs 7,150 to Rs 50,000.
According to Panaji Mayor Carolina Po, the move would help shore up revenue for the cash-strapped civic agency.
'They should be able to pay up at least so much. They are parked off Panaji and their offices are located on the banks of the city,' Po said, after presenting the proposed hike in taxes in her budget.
Chief Minister Digambar Kamat in his budget presented a week ago had slashed the entry tax for land-based casinos from Rs.2,000 to Rs.500.
Kamat, also the state's finance minister, had said that the move would 'provide some relief' to the more than a dozen land-based casinos located in five-star hotels in Goa.
Kamat's move had triggered a volley of criticism in Goa.
Aam Aurat Aadmi Against Gambling (AAAAG), an NGO which has been vocal in its criticism of the Congress-led coalition government's proximity to the casino industry, said it would lead to bankruptcy of the middle class.
'The government which calls itself the 'Aam Aadmi sarkar' (common man's government) has not even done an assessment of the negative impact of the casino on the families in Goa, especially women, children and youth,' Sabina Martins, spokesperson of AAAAG, told IANS.
There are at present more than a dozen land-based casinos in the various five-star hotels spread throughout Goa, in addition to the seven offshore casinos licenced to operate off the coast of the state.