Appeal to Smriti to slash GST on regional cinema

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Ever since the introduction of GST, Tollywood has been vocal in its protest over the new tax regime on regional film industries.

To address these concerns, Priya cinema owner Arijit Dutta and other exhibitors met I&B minister Smriti Irani to discuss slashing of GST on the regional industry. “Along with exhibitors from four regions and the Film Federation of India president, we met her at Shastri Bhawan. I suggested a 5% GST on the regional industry. She spoke to us in Bengali and was very sympathetic,” Dutta said.

Currently, 28% GST is levied for tickets above Rs 100 and 18% for those below Rs 100. “But the state government had decided to waive a portion of its share from this amount. Some hall owners have started getting refunds,” he said.

 The meeting made Dutta optimistic about the possibility of getting new revenue sources that will help single-screen theatres survive. “She is aware that digital service providers have a stranglehold on most single-screen theatres across the country and is looking at ways by which the government can give ads directly to cinemas. She has promised to come to Kolkata more often to discuss these issues,” he added.
Incidentally, actor-turned-TMC MP Dev had met finance minister Arun Jaitley last August and handed him a letter seeking a rethink on GST. His letter had elaborated on the earlier tax structure of regional industries and pointed out that the figure was nil for Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Punjab, Uttaranchal, Jharkhand (Jharkhand films), Karnataka (Kannada films), Maharashtra (Marathi films), Tamil Nadu (Tamil films) and 2% for Bengal (Bengali films).

“I also told him 5% GST on regional films screened in its own territory would save the regional industry,” Dev had said after the meeting.

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