The cinema loving audience in Madhya Pradesh have been deprived of watching new releases since October 5 as over 400 theatres have downed shutters in protest against entertainment tax levied by some local bodies in the state. The urban local bodies, depending on their categories, have imposed additional entertainment tax ranging from 5-15% on top of the already imposed Goods and Service Tax of 28%. 

This has not only created an additional financial burden on the sector but is also defeating the “one nation, one tax” that GST promised. The big players in the said sector are unwilling to pay this additional entertainment tax as it would encourage other states to impose such taxes on film tickets, which honestly could be a very possible scenario if the demands are given into. 

This has been ongoing since the start of the month and now the month is almost over and still the theaters’ tax matter has not been resolved. It is almost a month of depriving the film lovers of watching films in the theaters. In the full state, not a single film has been released, since this started, be it on a single screen or a multiplex. There have been genuine hits this month which the audiences have been deprived of and thus leading them to piracy for watching these films, in turn affecting our revenues.

While this is happening on one hand, on the other however, we want more screens for more revenue. One place hasn’t seen a resolution for their problems, then how can we expect to go on adding more and more screens if the basic tax structure hasn’t been fixed in place. Next we know they’ll move to Delhi, Maharashtra and other states in India. 

I’ve been saying this since almost 2 years now and in this very column that we need to come together to fight against such issues that can have an effect on this industry as a whole. We must not let them confuse our silences for our agreements in what they are doing. The original tax was increased from 18 to 28. Now some people want to levy an additional 5-10% extra tax on it. This is honestly not done and not quite fair. How can we expect to make progress if we are constantly pulled back and kicked down like this over and over again?

 

By – Amul Vikas Mohan

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