HYDERABAD: Arguing that it would adversely affect the film industry in the country, especially regional cinema, the Film Federation of India (FFI) has urged the Centre to drop its plan of introducing 27 per cent goods and service tax (GST) on films in lieu of entertainment tax.
The FFI has pointed out how there is no entertainment tax in several states while some other states exempt the tax on tickets priced below Rs 100. In these cases, introduction of GST would raise ticket prices as the burden would have to be put on the consumer.
FFI president J P Chowksey told TOI that the issue will be taken up with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when a delegation, including senior actors such as Aamir Khan and Hrithik Roshan, meets him. The GST Bill has already been passed in the Rajya Sabha and is expected to be introduced in the Lok Sabha soon.
“The NDA government may take the ordinance route to get the Bill passed. It has done that in several cases. Though we have not got any positive response from the government for our plea so far, we still want to pursue it,” Chowksey said.
In fact, Chowksey had sent a letter to finance and information and broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley on June 26, 2015, highlighting how the GST would affect regional films the most. The entertainment tax is only 14 per cent for local films and 24 per cent for other language films in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. There is no tax on films in Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab and Uttaranchal while Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu exempt local language films from the tax. In West Bengal, only two per cent entertainment tax is levied.
“The 27 per cent tax on regional films will be a huge blow to the good health of regional films. As a policy, the government should encourage regional content,” he said in the letter.
Asked if he had got any response to his letter from the minister, Chowksey replied in the negative. “The government seems to be under the impression that just because a few films like Bajrangi Bhaijaan or Bahubali become a huge hit, the film industry must be making a lot of money. The reality is that only 15 per cent of films do well at the box office,” he said.
He said the FFI had written to the Prime Minister on various issues pertaining to the film industry in April this year, but there was no response even on that.