Tamil Nadu cinema hall owners say they cannot pay additional tax on top of GST. (Representational)
Some 1,000 cinema halls in Tamil Nadu today remained shut for the second day in protest against imposition of 30 per cent local body tax in addition to Goods and Services Tax or GST. The issue was also discussed in the Tamil Nadu assembly. Industry sources said businesses may have suffered losses worth Rs 20-25 crore.
An industry representative said they had discussed the matter with the state government yesterday. "We were told that discussions will continue today. We are awaiting a decision from the government," said the representative who did not want to be named since the matter is private.
The issue was raised by the opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly. "They (cinema industry representatives) had met the chief minister [K Palaniswami] yesterday, but still theatres are shut. Why?" DMK leader Durai Murugan said. Congress leader KR Ramasamy also raised the issue.
Municipal Administration Minister SP Velumani said the government would give due consideration to problems of all sections of people. "Talks are going on," he said.
Going ahead with their strike announced on June 30 on the eve of the GST rollout, the industry members had shut their theatres yesterday citing their "inability" to pay both taxes. Besides the local tax, a GST of 18 per cent has been fixed for tickets priced below Rs 100 and 28 per cent for those above Rs 100.
"We are against the corporation [entertainment] tax which is 30 per cent. This is in addition to the GST rates [of up to 28 per cent]. We are not against the GST. We welcome it," Tamil Nadu Theatre Owners and Distributors Association President Abhirami Ramanathan had said.
Representatives of the association and others, including South Indian Film Chamber of Commerce, South Indian Artistes' Association, and Tamil Film Producers Council met with the chief minister over the tax issue.
They had also met with state Finance Minister D Jayakumar, who assured them that the government was with them and the matter required a decision at the policy level.
Expressing solidarity, city-based exhibitor AGS Cinemas' Chief Executive Officer Archana Kalpathi today said their cinema halls would be closed. "We respect the decision made by the film chamber association. AGS Cinemas will be closed in all locations," she tweeted.
"Collectively our industry has been floundering for many years. We hope and pray the TN government gives us the lifeline we so badly need," she said.