Zeenews Sports Bureau
New Delhi: The government on Wednesday exempted the Indian Grand Prix Formula One race organisers from paying any taxes or custom duties after there was an outcry against the apathy towards hosting international events.
This came after McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh played down fears that a tax wrangle could jeopardise next month`s inaugural Indian Formula One Grand Prix as the circuit ran into the single most daunting roadblock – the customs department.
With the F1 race slated to take place just a few weeks from now, the organisers of the event were struggling to come to a compromise with the Indian customs department over the issue of the payment of 100% duties to the government for bringing in expensive racing equipment on Indian soil.
Although the government said that the amount (estimated to be over 600 crores) would be returned once the event is over and the equipment is taken back after a nominal deduction of just 2%, the organisers Jaypee Sports India, say that arranging for that kind of money on such a short notice when they have to dedicate their energies to the culmination of a successful event is very tough.
JPSI has urged the Indian government to adopt a Singapore-style arrangement wherein a ‘custom bonded area’ is declared that enables the teams to fly-in their equipment into the country and directly take it to the circuit and return it via a same channel, thus eliminating the need to pay customs.
This was particularly tough to agree upon by the government as it classifies F1 racing as a form of entertainment and not as a sport whereas ironically, the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India has been given the status of a national sports federation.
However, better sense prevailed and the tracks have been cleared off any hiccups to hold the most televised sport of the globe on Indian soil.