Art is not a com­mod­ity, says the cir­cle

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Ruchika Garg ruchika.garg@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST), which aims to cre­ate a uni­form tax­a­tion struc­ture across In­dia, is paint­ing a sad picture for the art mar­ket in the coun­try. Af­ter im­ple­men­ta­tion, it will bring art­works in the slab of 12% tax slab, mak­ing them rather more ex­pen­sive. So far, bar­ring a few states, art was ex­empted from tax.

This has nat­u­rally up­set the art com­mu­nity, which fears that the al­ready strug­gling art in­dus­try will suf­fer more, and that bud­ding artists will now find even fewer buy­ers.

Art cu­ra­tor Erum Khan says, “Art is not a re­quire­ment, but a choice. If a show is held, only 2-5% of the works are sold. There are no schemes, no gov­ern­ment­driven ini­tia­tives, and no in­cen­tives for artists. On top of that, GST will lead to higher prices. What artists need is mo­ti­va­tion and not a push back.”

Cu­ra­tor Ina puri be­lieves that due to de­mon­eti­sa­tion, the whole in­dus­try is al­ready fac­ing a cri­sis and taxes will af­fect it se­verely. Puri says, “Sixty auc­tion houses have al­ready stopped work­ing across In­dia af­ter de­mon­eti­sa­tion. GST will make it more dif­fi­cult for us. Look at China. It gave a tax hol­i­day of 10 years to artists.”

On the con­trary, cu­ra­tor Sushma Bhel sup­ports the de­ci­sion, say­ing, “The art in­dus­try’s doc­u­men­ta­tion is not proper and GST will bring in a sys­tem, sim­plify it.”

And painter Gopi Ga­jwani be­lieves that for real art col­lec­tors, the ad­di­tional cost of the tax won’t be a hur­dle.

Even if GST adds `10,000 to the price of an art­work, an art lover won’t shy away from buy­ing it. The mar­ket for art is niche GOPI GA­JWANI, ARTIST

The govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to put cin­ema tick­ets un­der the 28% tax bracket in the Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST) regime is un­for­tu­nate for the film in­dus­try, feels Sid­dharth Roy Ka­pur

(right), Pres­i­dent of The Film and Tele­vi­sion Pro­duc­ers Guild of In­dia.

“The GST rate of 28% an­nounced on cin­ema tick­ets is a huge set­back for the film in­dus­try. The in­dus­try had pro­posed a rate of 5% in our rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the govern­ment, in or­der to re­vive a busi­ness which has been strug­gling from lack of fresh in­vest­ments in new cin­ema screens and a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in on­line piracy,” Ka­pur said in a state­ment.

The GST Coun­cil on Fri­day de­cided a four-slab tax rate for ser­vices that will roll out from July 1. “In the ex­ist­ing tax regime, the cin­ema ex­hi­bi­tion sec­tor was ex­empted from ser­vice tax and state VAT (value added tax), and en­ter­tain­ment tax was the only tax im­posed on cin­ema tick­ets by states and lo­cal bod­ies. The av­er­age en­ter­tain­ment tax col­lected na­tion­ally by the govern­ment across all states and lan­guages was in the range of 8-10% of gross box of­fice rev­enue. Hence, log­i­cally the GST rate should not have been more than 12%, in or­der to avoid any ex­che­quer loss,” Ka­pur said. He termed the de­ci­sion as “dis­heart­en­ing”.

The in­dus­try had pro­posed a rate of 5% in our rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the govern­ment, in or­der to re­vive the busi­ness SID­DHARTH ROY KA­PUR, PRO­DUCER

PHOTOS: SAUMYA KHANDELWAL/ HT

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