INCREASED: The prices of real estate are expected to shoot out of the sky because of the increase in stamp duty and conversion charges in the latest budget.
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the birthright of Goans was tampered with by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. For a Saturday following the week when the already high prices for real estate shot up, increasing taxes. For a Saturday following the week when the CM claimed unfairly that 85% of the crimes like murder and rape were committed by migrants. For a Saturday following the week when the CAG report exposed the widespread corruption in the state. For a Saturday following the week when the Supreme Court ruled that reservations for promotions for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes was not mandatory.
AND a few stray thoughts on the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant tampering with the birthright of niz Goenkar. Niz Goenkar have always believed that they have a fundamental right to drink liquor, particularly fenny at very reasonable prices. Indeed, fenny is supposed to have medical properties and a spoonful of fenny is even given to small children. One of the main issues in the Opinion Poll which was held in 1967 was the fate of liquor in Goa. At that time there was total prohibition at least officially in the state of Maharashtra, when Moraji Desai was the chief minister. It was the Goan aunty who filled in the gap and supplied liquor to those who could not do without their daily quota of fenny and other country liquor.
The enterprising Goan ladies of Dhobi Talao in Mumbai and Dadar converted their drawing rooms into bars with the daughters doing the serving. The added attraction was the boiled chana which was supplied free with the alcohol. The atmosphere was so friendly that the best artists and authors preferred to drink in these Aunties’ bars rather than go to a restaurant even after prohibition was lifted. Even now in theory you require a permit costing a few rupees to drink in a public bar in Goa. The main worry of those who were against merger of Goa with Maharashtra was that Moraji Desai and his successor of VP Naik would extend prohibition to the then Union Territory of Goa also.
Then Maharashtra Chief Minister Vasantrao Naik even made a special visit to Goa to re-ensure niz Goenkar that prohibition would not be extended to Goa. Besides, the popularity of the fenny which recently acquired GPS distinction, every mass in every church could not be conducted without wine. The wine that the presiding priest sipped on was meant to represent the blood of Christ. It all goes back to the last supper when our Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed that he was offering his body represented by the bread and the wine which represented his blood. This was just before Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed by Judas, one of his disciples, for 30 pieces of silver from Roman authorities.
IN his very first budget Pramod Sawant has increased the excise duty on all daroo including fenny by more than 100%. This means that MacDowell or Director’s Special or Big Boss will now cost you a minimum of
100 more. The price of beer which is the favourite of charter tourists and young people has also been increased steeply. The excuse is that this will dissuade domestic tourists who are attracted to Goa purely by the cheap daroo will stop coming to Goa. Unfortunately, this is not true because distilleries in Goa manufacture very cheap brands of liquor for the domestic tourist which are priced at20 or
30 for a 75 ml bottle. These bottles are nakli (fake) as they carry names similar to the standard popular bottles manufactured by those who make Indian Made Foreign Liquor. For instance, Director’s Special becomes Manager’s Choice and so on.
The steep increase in liquor will have a serious impact on tourism in Goa. Those who want a drink will drink anyway whatever the price. No other state offers the choice of liquor, beaches and an opportunity to harass and take selfies with semi-naked firangi tourists. Not only have liquor prices been increased the price of bar license too have been increased and will depend on the area of the bar. The larger the bar the higher the liquor license fee. This is stupid because the license fee should have been lowered so that tourists will be encouraged to drink in bars and not on beaches or streets where they throw their used emptied bottles usually broken on the beach.
AND a few stray thoughts on the steep increase in stamp duty and conversion. This will kill the real estate industry in the state. As it is even to get a 1BHK in a decent locality you have to pay40 to
50 lakhs. If you want a 2BHK or a 3BHK in a premium area like Dona Paula or even Miramar it could cost you a couple of crore. In the last decade literally thousands if not several lakh people have relocated in Goa from Delhi and Mumbai. Either because they want to make Goa their permanent home or a holiday home or just an investment. With hotel prices shooting up constantly it is cheaper to buy a seaside flat in a gated colony. The large scale entry of high net worth individuals into Goa has pushed up the prices of flats. It is common to see advertisements in the newspapers offering mega flats for2 crore plus.
The sufferers are Goans who can no longer afford to buy even a I-BHK in Goa. I recall that even as recently as in 2000 the price of flats on the Dona Paula – Miramar road was around
15 lakh. I recall a friend buying a flat next to the Marriott for20 which is now worth `2 crore. In the bulk of the cases people from outside who buy flats enter into an agreement for sale and do not register their flats. By doing so they avoid paying stamp duty.
But the risk they run is that if they do not convert the agreement for sale into the sale deed they are not entitled to a proportion of the property on which the flat is built. So we own the flat but not the land on which the flat stands. The 20% increase in the stamp duty in the latest budget will only discourage people from entering into sale deeds. The cost of conversion of land from agriculture and orchard to settlement which is likely to increase with 46 villages declared as urban areas will add further to the burden of those who buy flats. There is already a slowdown in the construction industry in Goa which will worsen with the steep increase in stamp duty and conversion charges. This will also affect immigrant labour who used to find a number of jobs in the construction industry. On the other hand it may also reduce the influx of construction immigrant labour into Goa.
And a few stray thoughts on the Chief Minister Sawant’s claim that over 85% of serious crimes like murder and rape are committed by migrants. This is grossly unfair as the majority of migrants who come to Goa are more interested in finding jobs than committing crimes. Just over the last two weeks there have been many crimes reported, most of which involving locals. The brother of Power Minister Mauvin Godinho, Wilson Godinho, has been arrested in the alleged murder of a member of the Merces panchayat.
There is a report that Ashok Naik molested a 15 year-old-boy. Since Naik is such a common surname in Goa there was Facebook post from another Ashok Naik who insisted that he was not the person involved. There have been a number of cases of damage to churches and burial grounds and even temples attributed to a Francis Periera, who was commonly referred to as boy. It was claimed that Francis who was a taxi driver used to commit his crimes with hammer and other tools he used to carry in his taxi late at night after dropping passengers at the airport.
Significantly Francis Pereira has been acquitted in every one of the cases filed against him. When there was a recent incident of desecration, Francis Periera was again arrested. There are any number of incidence of family fights over property in Goa. This is partly because of the Uniform Civil Code which requires that on the death of a spouse, 50% automatically goes to the wife. The rest is equally divided among the sons and daughters, it also includes daughter-in-laws and sons-in-law. Admittedly there have also been crimes by migrants. A recent case has been reported of a native of Jharkand molesting a Russian girl. It is possible that the majority of rape cases, particularly of foreign tourists, have been by outsiders. But the fact remains that the most notorious rape and murder case of Scarlet Keeling on Baga beach, was committed by a Goan.
I dislike the idea of the media referring to murders and rapes by the name of the state from which the accused comes. It gives the impression that people of one state are better than the other. In the case of migrants many of the assaults and murders are crimes of passion. Which means that they are not pre-meditated but which occur on an impulse. In most cases it is the cheap daroo that is to blame because outsiders who are not used to cheap liquor and drinking large quantities often get into fights over petty issues. The government has made it compulsory for landlords to register the name and background of clients with the police. Even those who stay in hotels and lodges are required to issue photo ID cards verified by the police to their guest.
I wonder whether this would be practical as most migrants live in slums or in small cubicles built by mundkar, these are rented out cheap. No leave and license agreements are signed between migrants and landlords. They have no separate power or water connections to identify them. The mundkar and landlords who allow migrants to stay on their property do not accept payment by cheques and probably don’t pay taxes on the extra income they earn. This is the only means of harassment of small lodge owners and Goans who provide accommodation to migrants as the police supposed to inspect so called illegal migrants are more likely to overlook non-registration by taking bribes.
AND a few stray thoughts on the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) on the performance of the various departments of the government of Goa. CAG is a central government organisation entrusted with the audit of the accounts of various government departments. The latest CAG report has revealed that at least four departments of the government of Goa have been guilty of misappropriation of large sums of money. The CAG report has also pointed out that delay in compilation of major products, including in the South Goa District Hospital is because of delay in paying contractors for work they have already done. Even former CM Manohar Parrikar’s dream project of the Atal Sethu is not complete because L & T, leading engineering company, has not been paid for completion of the Ponda and Panjim approach roads to the Atal Sethu bridge. The majority of the road contractors have abandoned work because they have not been paid. There are no takers for fresh tenders issued by the government as the contractors are not confident that they will get their payments.
COMMENTING on the financial status of the government CAG has revealed that loans to the state government have exceeded
20,000 crore, on which interest and principle has to be repaid every year and this itself amounts to more than10,000 crore. CAG has also exposed large scale corruption in the Industrial Development Corporation where plots have been allotted without following proper procedures. The IDC was primarily responsible for misusing its power to allot land meant for the special economic zone to builders and those who had nothing to do with exports. The CAG has chased up the government for delay in several major projects like the super-speciality block of the GMC. The GPCC chief has accused the Pramod Sawant government of a major scam in the allotment of the `40 crore tender allegedly to Wellness Forever for supplying medicines to the GMC.
Historically, the GMC has only bought medicines directly from the manufacturer or pharmacies run by Goa. Antibiotic Ltd which is a government company. Talking about government companies most of the public sector companies run by the state government are sick. The worst case is the Kadamba Transport Corporation where the bulk of the original capital has been wiped out.
Other sick companies include GAPL and Goa Automobiles which are supposed to be converted into a helicopter repair facility. Goa Dairy and Sanjeevani Sugar Factory are also in bad shape. The problem with the CAG reports is that the government departments concerned are supposed to report back to CAG on the action taken by them on observations made. This seldom happens and every CAG report carries a backlog of failure of concerned departments in taking corrective action.
RESERVATIONS IN PROMOTIONS
AND a last stray thought on the SC verdict that it is not mandatory for central or state governments to provide reservations in promotion to scheduled castes and schedule tribes. Historically, a certain proportion of seats in government colleges and jobs in government departments have been reserved for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes. The original motive was to give these tribes to catch up with the better upper castes who had denied them opportunities for education and employment. Unfortunately, reservations for the lowest of the low was diluted when politically powerful upper classes started claiming that they were also backward to get the reservations. More and more communities like the Marathas who control Maharashtra and the Jats who control the major states in North India started demanding reservations.
Despite the SC order that the total of reservations should not exceed 50% there are many states like Tamil Nadu where the reservations are 100%. In addition to the reservations there are also the provisions for minority communities to set up their own colleges and reserve not only seats but teaching posts for their own community under Article 30 under the Constitution. Which is why you have an Aligarh Muslim University and a Jamia University.
Most of the Church schools have a right to give preference to members of their own community. The present controversy is not about reservations but about promotions. Several state governments had introduced reservations not only for the original job but also for promotions. The SC has now made it clear that there cannot be reservations for promotions which will have to be strictly on merit. The BJP is very worried because they will lose their SC and ST votes.