With both Tamil Nadu state and centre vying for share in Goods and Services Tax (GST) at abnormal rates of 30% by the state and 28 % by the Centre, theatre owners have finally called it a day to protest and prepare for a long shut-down of about 1,000 cinema halls across the state.
Announcing the decision, Tamil Nadu Cinema Theatre Owners Federation president Abirami Ramanathan on Sunday evening said the decision on double taxation was forced upon them unilaterally without prior consultations. “A GO 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 move has sent producers and cinema industry scurrying for cover as it involes huge losses for more than 10 recently released films, especially ‘Ivan Thanthiran’ released on Friday the last. It director R. Kannan said the film will suffer major loss.
“They announced the strike without prior notice,” he said and wondered, “How will I pay back loans I took to make this film?” Tamil Films Producers Council president Vishal has appealed for at least a week’s notice but the theatre owners association has gone ahead with the strike as even one week would mean compliance that will be forced upon them eventually.
Tamil Nadu is the only state in the country that has imposed a separate tax in addition to GST, and the total tax now comes to 68%, leaving only 32% for theatre owners, who are already facing extinction in a fiercely competitive and TV-dominated cinem industry.
More than that, 10 lakh people will lose their jobs and livelihood, which they say would not have happened had late CM J.Jayalalithaa been alive. Jayalalithaa was from the Tamil film industry before she entered politics.