Chennai, July 3: Over 1,000 cinema theatres across Tamil Nadu have closed down their doors as part of an indefinite strike against a system of double taxation. The strike after the launch of the Goods and Services Tax in the state on July 1.
Tamil Nadu is the only state in the country that has decided to impose an entertainment tax of 30 per cent on films in addition to the 28 per cent tax that is being charged under the GST. This means that cinema halls will have to pay 58 per cent as tax to the government, a move that will lead to amplified ticket prices and affect the business.
Talks between theatre owners and the government to resolve the issue have failed, leading to the launch of the indefinite protest by Tamil Nadu Cinema Theatre Owners Federation president Abirami Ramanathan on Sunday evening.
A report by the PTI quoted Ramanathan as having said, “If we screen movies, we have to pay local body taxes immediately as it came into force from yesterday. We are closing since there is no other way out. We cannot increase prices for big ticket movies. We have requested the government to fix a threshold within which we should be allowed to either increase or cut down ticket prices as per the need.”
He also added, “The state government needs to clarify how much tax will be levied on theatres after GST rollout. We request the state government to sort out the confusion immediately.” The strike has impacted revenues for over ten Tamil films that were released in the past two weeks and left a dent on the livelihood of more than 10 lakh people.
Meanwhile, filmmakers in Tamil Nadu have urged the Chamber to reconsider its decision. Vishal Krishna, President of the Tamil Film Producers’ Council was quoted by IANS as having commented, “The critical decision was taken (by the chamber) without the consent of other organisations. In fact, we were not even informed and their move came as a shocker. We have urged them to revoke their decision and give us time to discuss the taxation issue with the government.”