High tax rates on sports goods under the incoming goods and services tax (GST) might discourage many youngsters, particularly those from poor backgrounds, from taking up sports, says a section of sportspersons and shop owners.
Essential sports and fitness goods such as shoes, skipping ropes and yoga mats will join the ranks of luxury goods after the GST roll-out from July 1. The tax on these goods will be levied at the rate of 28 per cent, the highest rate under the new tax regime.
Shot puts, javelins, high-jump poles, boxing gloves and all gymnastics equipment as well as swimming gear are also set to be taxed at 28 per cent. The tax rate in most cases will jump from an average of 4-5 per cent at present to 28 per cent. The GST on chess and carrom, which was also in the highest tax bracket earlier, was lowered to 12 per cent, along with cricket bats, balls etc.
Manohar Wagle of Wagle Sports, one of Mumbai’s oldest sports shops, and president of the Maharashtra Sports and Fitness Trade Association, says, “If I am selling a skipping rope at Rs 100 now, it will cost Rs 128 after July 1. The cost of a specialised shoe with spikes, used in most sports played on grassy surfaces such as cricket, golf, athletics etc, will go up by 15-20 per cent.”
“Many youngsters from poor backgrounds cannot afford this. But it is the schools that will be affected more than any segment as they work on a limited budget and the higher tax rate means that they will buy less equipment,” he adds.
This comes at a time when Indian sports is starting to make its presence felt at international meets.
Olympian Adille Sumariwala, president, Athletic Federation of India (AFI), says, “Athletics is the mother of all sports. Without running you cannot have many of the other popular sports, whether it is cricket, hockey or football. Instead of encouraging children and help increase their participation in sports, this kind of high taxation will discourage youngsters, especially those from humbler backgrounds, from taking up sports.”
Sumariwal and Wagle both feel that all sporting goods should have been in the 5 per cent category.