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Revenue Minister meets unemployed musicians

Maharashtra Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat on Wednesday met representatives of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) and Hotels and Restaurant Association (HRA) to look into issues related to the recent entertainment tax imposed on them.

music Updated: Jan 14, 2011 14:57 IST
Collin Rodrigues

Maharashtra Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat on Wednesday met representatives of the Indian Hotel and Restaurant Association (AHAR) and Hotels and Restaurant Association (HRA) to look into issues related to the recent entertainment tax imposed on them.



According to the new legislation, which was issued under the regime of then revenue minister Narayan Rane, all places that serve alcohol and have live music for entertainment, will have to pay an additional tax. The levy for five stars was fixed at Rs 2 lakh, clubs and restaurants at Rs 50,000 and small bars, too, at Rs 50,000. Says MA Sarela, of HRA, “The minister looked into our issues and told us he would call us back after eight days.”



It may be recalled that Narayan Rane had also met some of these hotel representatives when he was in power. “After the order came into effect in August, our representatives had gone to meet the then revenue minister. But there was a reshuffle in government ministries in the new government, so we lost our chance and now have to start all over again,” adds Sarela. Thorat also met three representatives of musicians who have been left unemployed by the act. Says Lindsay Pitter, guitarist and singer at the Taj, “The legislation to tax live acts is a fight between the government and hotel owners. It’s artistes who are caught in the crossfire.”



During the meeting with Thorat, Pitter also handed out cutouts of various newspaper articles on the issue, and a list of more than 700 signatures of people who are sympathetic to the cause of unemployed musicians. Pitter says that Thorat patiently heard their grievances, but at the same time feels a solution to the issue will take a long time to reach.



The decision of the Maharashtra government may aim to fill up its coffers, but what it has done is deprive hundreds of daily wage live musicians of a good livelihood.