Multiplexes here went on strike on Tuesday in protest against the levying of an additional tax over and above the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Multiplex Association of India (MAI) announced.
This step is in response to a notification issued by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) levying a Local Body Entertainment Tax (LBET) of 20 percent on non-Tamil films, and 10 percent on Tamil films with effect from September 27 in addition to the 28 percent GST on cinema tickets.
“All multiplexes operating in Chennai have announced that they are going on strike starting today,” a statement from MAI said.
MAI President Deepak Asher appealed to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and GCC Commissioner to consider their request to withdraw the LBET levied on the film exhibition industry in Chennai immediately.
“We believe such withdrawal will ensure the survival of the film industry and will support an environment of safe, secure and wholesome entertainment option for the population of Chennai. On the other hand, the continuance of a LBET in addition to GST will render cinema exhibition unviable and will eventually kill the film industry,” Asher said.
Even the Producers Guild of India affirmed its support to the decision of the multiplex cinema chains in Chennai.
Siddharth Roy Kapur, President of the Producers Guild of India, said: “The decision of Tamil Nadu government to impose LBET to GST on cinema tickets is a highly retrograde step and the Producers Guild of India urges the Tamil Nadu government to withdraw this regressive tax at the earliest in the larger interests of all sectors of the Indian film industry.”
The Guild members in a recent meeting had expressed concern that if the LBET is not withdrawn, “it will lead to a significantly huge burden on the pockets of the local audience in the state who would have to shell out in excess of 50 percent tax on cinema tickets”.