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Top Indian shooters seek reversal of high tax slabs under Goods and Services Tax

The inclusion of sports goods under the higher tax slabs of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) has left many athletes worried about higher costs of equipment.

other sports Updated: Aug 09, 2017 09:26 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian shooting,Goods and Services Tax,Jaspal Rana
Shooting equipment is set to become more expensive under GST, leading many to fear that younger people might be discouraged from taking up the sport. (HT Photo)

India’s top shooters, who depend on imported equipment to excel at international level, are worried about spiralling costs as government has included sports goods under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and placed most of them on a high slab.

Expensive equipment could restrict the growth of shooting, a discipline with high potential for medals for India, believe the country’s top marksmen, who have sought an immediate review.

The new levies mean the price of a shotgun cost has gone up from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh. An air pistol, which earlier cost around Rs 1.20 lakh, will cost around Rs 1.70 lakh.

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To encourage Olympic disciplines, the government had exempted top shooters from paying customs duty on imported weapons and ammunition. However, the introduction of GST has taken away that concession.

Under the new policy, 28 % tax will be levied on pistol and revolver while rifle, shotgun and ammunition are in the 18% tax slab. The rest of the equipment is in the 12 % slab.

Will hit young talent

Former champion pistol shooter and current junior national coach, Jaspal Rana, said shooting isn’t confined to the elite but many youngsters from humble background are taking up the sport in a big way.

“The the junior shooters gave a good account of themselves in the recent world championships at Munich, and it’s evident we have a good foundation. It was all due to the government’s liberal policy on import. But it could be big setback if the government doesn’t review its tax policy.”

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According to Rana, officials formulating policy may be unaware of the growth of shooting in India. “It’s highly competitive at international level. To get an edge, the best equipment and training is needed. If there is additional burden on the shooters, it might hamper the progress,” Rana added.

Olympian and former world champion in trap, Manavjit Singh Sandhu, also expressed concern. “It’s a serious issue, the earlier it is sorted out the better. There is no logic in imposing tax as it will spoil all the good work done,” he told Hindustan Times.

Tax sops matter

The government exempting shooting equipment from customs duty had led to outstanding results, he said. “Our shooters have excelled at the Worlds and Olympic Games. At a time when we should be focusing on the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games, athletes are burdened with additional tax,” he said.

Former international shotgun shooter, Mansher Singh said shooters will have no option but to bear the tax burden and import weapons. “Paying extra means compromising on other aspects that help athletes fine-tune for big events. Expensive equipment will discourage beginners from taking up shooting,” he added.

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It is not the shooting community alone that is at the crossroads. Billiards and snooker is also feeling the burden of GST. The cue sports has been clubbed with parlour and video games and is placed in the 28 % tax slab. Accessories have also become expensive.

The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) and the Billiards and Snooker Federation of India have apprised the finance ministry of the gravity of the situation and await a response.

First Published: Aug 09, 2017 09:23 IST