By Haricharan Pudipeddi
Chennai–Theatres remained shut across Tamil Nadu on Monday over the state government’s decision to levy 30 per cent state entertainment tax over and above the GST rate of 28 per cent.
The double taxation will make the tickets in Tamil Nadu more expensive than in neighbouring states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka.
Abirami Ramanathan, President of the Tamil Nadu Film Chamber of Commerce, has urged the state government to fall in line with the other southern states’ tax slab.
He said the decision to call the strike was to remind the government that theatres can’t operate on the existing tax rate.
“We are not against the government. We are merely requesting them to revise the tax slab. By paying 58 per cent tax on a Rs 100 ticket, we can’t do business. We decided to close down theatres to show the government that we are helpless,” he said.
While a Rs 100 ticket in the neighbouring states would cost Rs 118 post-GST, it would cost Rs 148 in Tamil Nadu, thanks to the government’s additional 30 per cent state tax on the ticket. For years, movie tickets in Tamil Nadu have had a cap of Rs 120.
On Monday, actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan said Tamil filmdom will speak in “one voice”, when asked about his opinion on the tax situation in the state.
“The entire industry is gathering together and we shall speak as one voice soon,” he said at an event here.
Some theatre owners are crying foul.
Shutting down theatres is not the ultimate solution, says Harigovind, proprietor of Rakki Cinemas.
“We understand the decision was taken keeping in mind the larger picture but shutting us down is not the best solution. Our day-to-day business will be severely affected if the strike continues. I hope the matter is resolved soon,” Harigovind told IANS.
“It’s not just our business that’s at stake. What about all the new releases? By closing down theatres, the producers of these films will suffer heavy losses,” he said.
A representative from a leading multiplex said that the Chamber’s decision to shutdown theatres was “silly”.
“By shutting down theatres across the state, what are we trying to prove? Instead of asking us to close down, the industry members should talk to the government and arrive at a solution. Why not ask for increase in ticket prices,” he said.