CHENNAI: Nearly 1,000 theatres across Tamil Nadu will remain shut on Monday, the first day of an indefinite strike called by theatre owners to protest against the state’s imposition of 30% entertainment tax in addition to the 28% Goods and Services Tax (GST) on film trade.
This will mean curtains in cinema halls at least for now for 10 Tamil films that released in the past two weeks in Tamil Nadu – the only state in the country that has announced a separate tax in addition to GST.
Last-minute talks on Sunday by producers to resolve the impasse and persuade the theatre owners not to go ahead with the strike, which they first threatened on Friday.
Tamil Nadu Cinema Theatre Owners Federation president Abirami Ramanathan on Sunday evening announced that cinema hall owners would proceed with the strike – to the agony of the producers of recently-released films.
Tamil Films Producers Council president Vishal, batting for the producers affected, on Sunday asked the theatre owners to call off the strike or at least to defer it by a week.
‘Ivan Thanthiran’ director R Kannan posted a message on Saturday that his film, which hit the theatres on Friday, will suffer a major loss if theatre owners go on strike from Monday. “They announced the strike without prior notice,” Kannan said. “How will I pay back loans I took to make this film?”
“We have heard the pleas of the affected producers,” Ramanathan said. “We will discuss what needs to be done.”
He said the decision to announce the strike had to be taken suddenly as the theatre owners were kept in the dark about the double taxation until 5pm on Friday.
“A government order was passed on Friday, declaring that in addition to GST, the state will levy 30% entertainment tax which will be collected by local bodies,” Ramanathan said.
The producers’ council also voiced its opposition to the 30% entertainment tax.
“We met the minister for information and publicity Kadambur Raju and discussed our concerns,” Vishal said. “We are hoping that the state government will roll back the entertainment tax on Monday.”
The livelihoods of more than 10 lakh people depend on the state’s film trade.
Abirami Ramanathan said in addition to 28% GST and 30% entertainment tax, theatre owners have to pay an additional tax that local bodies levy. “It adds up to 68%, leaving us with just 32%,” he said. “Many theatres across the state shut on Sunday itself as it is not viable to pay such a huge percentage as tax.”
Source: Times of India