The current air of uncertainty that surrounds the execution of Guyana’s premier soccer event, the Kashif & Shanghai Tournament, has occasioned this letter to the press.
It is indeed unfortunate that this event, which certainly impacts positively on the economy of this part of the Region I have been elected to represent now seems doubtful. The influx of visitors assures the residents of Linden of an opportune boost of revenue, especially in the hospitality and service sectors, that is most welcome during this Christmas period. To say that this is an important benefit to the declared ‘economically depressed’ community of Linden would be an understatement.
However, we are now disheartened by the news that the organizers are to be burdened with a 27% levy on their gross earnings, by way of the football federation’s 11% levy coupled with government’s 16% taxation of this sporting event through VAT payments.
It is especially this latter charge which concerns me, since I am concerned at the impact this will have on the involvement of the youth in Region 10 in sports such as soccer.
Young hopefuls train all year for the opportunity to be showcased in this tournament, with the dream of joining the likes of Collie Hercules, Charles Lily Pollard and Nigel Codrington in the semi-professional and professional leagues abroad after displaying their skills like those mentioned in this tournament.
The social benefit of the involvement of our youth in these types of activities must be weighed against the taxation of a sports tournament that is decidedly amateur in nature.
Our soccer players are not salaried employees, they play for prize money yes, but more often than not those funds go back into the provision of gear and equipment to involve club members in other, less lucrative tournaments. It therefore boggles the mind that the government would choose to kill this tournament through taxation at this level, further eroding the motivation for our youths to be involved in a positive character building activity like the disciplined pursuit of a sport of this nature.
I therefore make a clear call for a definition/classification of amateur and professional sporting activities in Guyana, with the exemption of amateur sports tournaments and related activities from taxation, in order to ensure the continued engagement of our people in meaningful and positive activities, which have demonstrably aided in the development of a rounded and disciplined character in many.
Regional Chairman – Region 10