FM Jaitley equates entertainment industry Bollywood with gambling and betting industries hiking taxes , filmmakers upset
NEW DELHI,May22: Last week, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the GST (Goods and Services Tax) will include present entertainment tax/service tax, to be replaced with a single 28% tax. NDTV.com caught up with producer Mukesh Bhatt, who was upset with the Government’s announcement. He said, “28% GST is too high, it should be immediately brought down to 18%.” In 2013, Maharashtra government had imposed an additional 10% entertainment duty on movie tickets priced between Rs. 251 and Rs. 350. However, entertainment tax varies from state to state – Delhi pays 20%, Bihar 50%, Gujarat 20% (nil for Gujarati films), Haryana 30% Karnataka 30%, Madhya Pradesh 20%, Maharashtra 20%, Andhra Pradesh 20% (15% for Telugu films) and Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttarakhand pay nil.
Siddharth Roy Kapur, President of The Film and Television Producers Guild of India, said, “The industry had proposed a rate of 5% in our representations to the Government, in order to revive a business, which has been struggling from lack of fresh investments in new cinema screens and a significant increase in online piracy. The average entertainment tax collected nationally by the government across all states and languages was in the range of 8-10% of gross box office revenue. Hence logically the GST rate should not have been more than 12%, in order to avoid any exchequer loss. Instead, the Government has equated the film sector with the gambling and betting industries and taxed it at the highest slab of 28%”
Both Mukesh Bhatt and Mr Kapur feel that the government is equating the entertainment industry with the gambling industry. Mukesh Bhatt added, “They have to understand we are a creative industry, we are different from gambling and tobacco industries. Why are we treated like the Paan and Gutka industry? Are we injurious to health?”
Both also spoke about the lack of support and interest from the Government of India, “Unfortunately, with such a lack of support from the Government, the Indian film industry which should be one of the primary forms of cultural outreach from India to the rest of the world, finds itself in real danger of coming undone.” Mr Bhatt added, “We have been requesting that we want to meet the high command of the party but that has not happened yet. The day is not far when only Hollywood films will release in India every week, Hindi film producers won’t be able to make movies at this rate.”