The abolition of entertainment tax by the Rajasthan government has not come a day too soon. With the same entertainment as that provided by cinemas, being available on television for free, entertainment tax on cinemas had long since lost its meaning. But all the pleas of the industry people to the various state governments, from time to time over the years, fell on deaf ears. A little less than three years ago, the Punjab government abolished entertainment tax but that fact was hardly highlighted by the industry. The Rajasthan government has now followed in the footsteps of the Punjab government and done away with entertainment tax completely. The move of the government of the desert state needs to be lauded by the trade and the public alike and emulated by the other state governments.
It is creditable that although there doesn’t exist a fullfledged film industry in Rajasthan, it is this government which has come to the rescue of the film industry and given it concession in the form of total abolition of entertainment tax. The action of the Congress government in the state of Rajasthan will see film business jump as the total revenues will now accrue to the industry rather than being shared between the government and the trade. Since time immemorial, it has been alleged that exhibitors of small centres have been indulging in tax evasion. It’s an open secret that many exhibitors were forced to resort to robbing the government of its rightful share in revenue because they couldn’t make ends meet without doing so. Film business in smaller centres has been adversely affected due to video piracy, to arrest which the governments have failed miserably. By abolishing entertainment tax, the government of Rajasthan has at least given the beleaguered industry reason to smile.
For long now, single-screen cinemas in every state have been complaining about step-motherly treatment at the hands of their state governments because multiplexes in every state are entitled to tax holidays while single-screen cinemas get no such benefit. The Rajasthan government, by this move to make entertainment tax a thing of the past, has sent a message loud and clear to all owners of single-screen cinemas – that it cares for them.
This laudatory step of the Rajasthan government indirectly puts to shame the governments of states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Bengal, where full-fledged film industries exist. It’s a shame that the governments of none of the aforementioned states thought of helping the film industry by abolishing entertainment tax.
The least these governments can now do is to forthwith emulate the example of the Rajasthan government and announce similar reliefs.
CCCA president Santosh Singh Jain deserves kudos for his painstaking efforts in getting Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot to finally act on what had been long overdue.