In­dian cin­e­mas shut down in tax protest

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

More than 1,000 cin­e­mas in the In­dian state of Tamil Nadu have closed in protest at a hike in taxes af­ter the gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a na­tion­wide levy. Movie theatres in the south­ern state dark­ened their screens from Mon­day, say­ing a state tax of 30 per­cent on tick­ets on top of the new na­tional tax of 28 per­cent will de­ter cin­ema-go­ers and en­cour­age piracy. The gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced a new goods and ser­vice tax (GST) on Satur­day in In­dia’s big­gest-ever fis­cal re­form. It in­tends to re­place more than a dozen na­tional and state levies with a sin­gle uni­fied tax code. But as part of ne­go­ti­a­tions to get states to ac­cept the GST, the gov­ern­ment agreed some could im­pose ad­di­tional lo­cal levies. Tamil Nadu has tar­geted cin­ema tick­ets. “The tax rate on tick­ets is 58 per­cent, the high­est in the coun­try,” Tamil Nadu The­atre Own­ers and Distrib­u­tors As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Ab­hi­rami Ra­manathan told AFP. “It is a bur­den on movie-go­ers and de­feats the ob­jec­tive of the new tax regime,” he said. Ra­manathan added that the taxes would en­cour­age peo­ple to il­le­gally down­load films.

The as­so­ci­a­tion ac­cepts the new GST but says cin­e­mas can­not af­ford the state duty as well. The Tamil film in­dus­try is In­dia’s sec­ond big­gest af­ter Mum­bai-based Bol­ly­wood, and the state ac­counts for a huge chunk of the $2.1 bil­lion an­nual box of­fice earn­ings across the coun­try. Tamil film in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives say the taxes could af­fect the liveli­hoods of nearly one mil­lion peo­ple. —AFP

CHEN­NAI: In this pho­to­graph take on July 3, 2017, In­dian res­i­dents sit in front of a closed cin­ema amid a shut­down called to protest the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Goods and Ser­vices Tax (GST). —AFP

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