Though the exhibition and events industry is growing in India, there are several issues such as rationalisation of GST and easing of permission processes that need to be addressed to enable growth of the sector. Currently, about 18 per cent GST is levied on companies or entrepreneurs participating in any trade exhibition. “Generally, 80 per cent of businesses participating in trade and other exhibitions in India are MSMEs, for whom 18 per cent GST is high. There are also issues regarding availing input credit. There are instances where the event organisers set up offices in the states where they hold exhibitions, just to ensure that the input tax credit is availed smoothly. The exhibition space is growing in India, and to enable growth of the sector, the government should levy 5 per cent GST on MSMEs participating in trade expos and permit venues to levy IGST (instead of CGST) on event organisers from other states,” said KV Nagendra Prasad, president, Indian Exhibition Industry Association.
Representatives of the exhibition industry have been demanding that the government include it in the list of ‘Champion Sectors’ identified by the Department of Commerce. This will aid the growth of the industry by easing and streamlining permission processes for conducting expos, provide them incentives, increase their access to capital and other benefits, insiders believe. “When we approached the government, they were of the opinion that as tourism and hospitality sectors have been included in the Champion Sectors plan, there is no need for the exhibition industry. But the exhibitions industry is a completely different one, which requires special focus to develop,” Prasad added.