Government issues 35-day ultimatum to non-paying casinos and hotelsThe defaulting firms have been told to settle their overdue royalties and taxes totalling Rs 1.57 billion with penalty and interest.
The government on Friday issued a strongly worded ultimatum to non-paying casinos,mini casinos and hotel operators to clear their outstanding payments totalling more than Rs1.57 billion within 35 days or face legal action.
The defaulting firms have been told to settle their overdue royalties and taxes with penalty and interest.
The Kumari Chowk Office, which reviews the government accounts under the Office of the Auditor General, published the names of the debtors and their ancestors going back two generations in its notice published on Friday.
The office said that it took action after these casinos failed to clear the dues despite repeated reminders.
“If they do not make payment, the government will confiscate their properties and auction them off to recover the arrears,” the notice said.
As per the notice, Rakesh Wadhwa, the fugitive owner of Nepal Recreation Centre, owes the highest amount of Rs736 million. The company owns around 3.5 ropanis of land and a house at Kalimati.
Nepal Recreation Centre used to operate four casinos—Casino Nepal housed at the Hotel Soaltee Crowne Plaza, Casino Anna at the Hotel Annapurna, Casino Tara at the Hotel Hyatt Regency and Casino Everest at the Hotel Everest—all of which have shut down.
In June 2011, the government annulled the operating licence of Nepal Recreation Centre after it failed to pay taxes and royalties owed to the government.
Piyush Bahadur Amatya, chairman of The Fulbari Resort & Spa that used to house Casino Fulbari, has outstanding payments amounting to Rs339.31 million. Radhe Shyam Saraf, chairman of the Hotel Yak and Yeti that houses Casino Royale, owes Rs163.35 million to the government.
The now-defunct Casino Anna, operated by Tapta Bahadur Bista under Annapurna International, has debts totalling Rs160.83 million to the government.
A notice has been issued in the name of Dinesh Bahadur Bista, executive chairman of the Hotel Soaltee that owes Rs84.37 million, Surendra Bahadur Singh, operator of mini casinos under the name Happy Hour, owes Rs75.36 million; and RD Tuttle, who opened Nepal’s first modern casino, Casino Nepal under Nepal Recreation Centre, owes Rs18.40 million.
“We have not published the dues owed by Casino Everest that was housed at the Hotel Everest because of an ongoing court case,” said Jeevan Prakash Mahotra, chief of the Kumari Chowk Office.
“There are other casinos that have not paid royalties and taxes to the government, but we have not published their names because the Department of Tourism has not sent us the details.”
The department said the Radisson Hotel and eight mini casinos located outside the Kathmandu Valley owe the government millions in annual royalties.
In April 2014, the government decided to shut down all casinos not fulfilling the Casino Regulation 2013 and scrap the licences of those defaulting on royalties. However, these casinos and mini casinos continue to operate taking advantage of the Supreme Court’s interim order that allows them to remain open.
As per the regulation, casino operators have to pay a Rs20 million fee to obtain a casino operating licence. They are also required to renew the licence annually by paying 50 percent of the operating licence fee.
Casino operators must pay the government an annual royalty of Rs30 million set by the Financial Act.
Moreover, they are required to deposit an amount equivalent to a year’s royalty fee at the Tourism Ministry as bank guarantee. The money must be deposited within two months of the start of a new fiscal year.
According to department officials, the interim order allows the gaming houses to operate under the old regulation, but they are legally required to pay the annual royalty fixed by the Financial Act.
Casino Royale run by Surendra Bahadur Singh under Gilt Investment operates under the old regulation since the Supreme Court issued the interim order on March 28, 2016.
Casino Rad operated by Kishore Silwal, Kausal Silwal and Usha Thapa Silwal under Rock International has paid only Rs12.5 million, and owes millions in taxes to the government, officials said. The owners have been operating the casino under the court’s ruling since May 2016.
As per the notice, four mini casinos housed at the Hotel Sweet Dream in Mahendranagar, Hotel Lacoul in Bhairahawa, Hotel Sneha in Nepalgunj and Hotel Dhaka in Kakarbhitta have been carrying on business without paying the annual royalty.
Four other mini casinos under Rock International are housed at the Hotel Sathai in Dhangadhi, Hotel Nans in Bhairahawa, Hotel Suraj in Birgunj and Riya’z Hotel in Kakarbhitta.
Dandu Raj Ghimire, director general of the department, said that there were a few other casinos, besides those named by the Kumari Chowk Office, that have not cleared their royalties and taxes. “We are studying the details,” he said, adding that a committee had been formed to assess the amount of arrears they owe to the government.