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Mamata stands in between GST and Bengali film industry, gives tax lifeline

Mamata Banerjee’s announcement has come at a time when she stepped up her attack on the GST rollout in the country from July 1 describing it as an “epic blunder”.

regional movies Updated: Jun 29, 2017 14:34 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses media after a Peace Meeting in Kolkata.(PTI)

At a time when the Bengali film industry is going through a low, the Mamata Banerjee government has thrown a tax lifeline to save it from the impact of GST. Nepali and Santhali films will also benefit from the move announced by state finance minister Amit Mitra. The timing came at a time when she stepped up her attack on the GST rollout in the country from July 1 describing it as an “epic blunder”.

Though the GST rates on tickets below Rs 100 will stand at 18%, the state government will not keep 9% which it is entitled to. It will merely retain 2% and pass on the benefit of 7% to the viewers. The move is expected to benefit the stand alone movie halls where the price of tickets are lower than that in multiplexes. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Relief has also been declared for those buying tickets valued above Rs 100 that would attract GST at 28%. For these tickets, the state would offer a rebate of 12% on its share of 14 %. “The rebate given by the state government will be printed on the tickets,” Mitra said.

“The Bengali film industry has brought glory not only to the state of West Bengal but also to the entire country. The state government is happy to support it,” said state finance minister Amit Mitra on Wednesday.

Mitra, who is the chairperson of the empowered committee of state finance ministers on GST said, “We emphasised in the GST Council meeting that GST will deliver a death blow to the regional film industry such as Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Oriya, Nepali. It was due to the pressure from Bengal that the Centre agreed to slash the proposed GST rate of 28% on tickets valued at below Rs 100 to 18%,” claimed Mitra.

Incidentally, Bengal is a debt-stressed state with 81% of its projected (2017-18) own tax revenue of Rs 55,786 crore set to be consumed by loan repayment of Rs 45,339 crore, and sacrifice of any amount of revenue is bound to hurt the state exchequer.

However, chief minister Mamata Banerjee has a soft corner for the film industry. Every year, she invites virtually all the first and second rank faces of the Bengali film industry to the flagship party programme on July 21. She has quite a few film stars, current and past, on the list of Trinamool Congress MLAs and MPs too.

First Published: Jun 29, 2017 12:33 IST