KOCHI: Film industry insiders have come out against the state government’s decision to allow local bodies to collect 10 per cent entertainment tax (called Local Body Entertainment Tax), in addition to the 18% GST. In budget speech, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had cited Tamil Nadu as an example of a state that practices the double tax system.
According to film producers, theatre owners, and distributors in Kerala, this is not good news. “Cinema is the only place where the common man can take his family for some entertainment. The additional tax will definitely be a burden for the public. The GST was implemented to make it a single tax concept. The 10% tax will be sabotaging that whole concept,” says producer Krishnan Sethukumar.
Producer Prasobh Krishna also feels this will severely affect the film industry as well as the theatres.“The implementation of the 18% GST had brought down the ticket rates, but the latest development has brought everything back to square one. Audiences have become extremely selective these days. The budget of some families allows them to accommodate only up to two or three movies per month. After this, they may start limiting themselves to just one or two.”
“Even youngsters who make it a point to watch every action spectacle in the theatre will now think twice. And once theatres decide to make provisions only for event films, they may stop supporting the smaller films altogether. They may find other language films, especially ‘mass’ entertainers, more viable. Presently, it’s smaller films that are doing much better in Malayalam,” he said.
Currently, the average ticket rate in multiplexes is between `150 and `250. This will be incremented to `165 and `275. Some theatre owners think they have no other option but to increase the ticket rates again.
Vinod A R, a managing partner of Crown Cinema, Kozhikode, has attested to this possibility. “More importantly, we will have to go through the old hassles of ‘ticket sealing’; the tax will have to be in advance, seal the tickets, and only then issue them,” he said.