The film industry is disappointed that it has been ignored in the Union Budget that was announced on Thursday.
The industry was hoping to hear about abolition of entertainment tax and service tax or at least a lowering of both; not to mention steps to curb rampant piracy. But nothing of the sort happened.
In fact, the only time the budget came close to mentioning the film industry is when the government announced its plans to develop world-class film convention facilities in the country in close collaboration with the private sector.
It also declared that the Film & Television Institute (FTII), Pune, and Satyajit Ray Film & Television Institute, Kolkata, have been proposed to be accorded the status of Institutes of National Importance and that a National Centre for Excellence in Animation, Gaming and Special Effects will be set up in the due course of time.
hitlist spoke to some people from B-town to get their take on what this translates into for the industry...
The thrust on infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing, and rationalisation of duties on input costs is welcome. The government’s focus on rural electrification, defence and protection of women and its allocations for the sports university, artisans and the differently abled reflect that the government has economic and social vision. Of course, there will always be more to ask for in terms of corporate or personal income tax and requirements for our specific industries. But the government has to prioritise and I am positive that it will adopt a more growth-oriented outlook towards our film industry as well. Right now, we need to see whether holistically the economy is being put on track and whether we are moving responsibly and progressively in the direction of economic progress.
I kept thinking that the Indian economy was on the verge of revival. But after this budget, I am disappointed, as the budget didn’t discuss anything pertaining to our film industry. As usual, we have been sidelined by the government. The new government has begun to function just like the old one.
This year’s budget has devoted funds to organic farming and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, but there’s nothing for film industry at all. FTII and the Satyajit Ray institute getting accorded a higher status means hardly anything to us. I was hoping that the service tax issue would be tackled and that we’d have one window clearance for permissions for Hollywood shoots.
I would’ve expected some reduction in import duties on filming equipment. Costs of camera, sound equipment and lights are already high these days and these import duties will only make them more expensive. Also, we barely get any rebates or exemptions, despite being heavily taxed. We are being offered incentives to shoot in foreign countries, but we get nothing at home.
The government is so busy entertaining us that it has no room to think about the entertainment industry. On a serious note, the biggest thing they could have done was to abolish the entertainment tax, which would have helped our industry build more cinemas and generate more employment. But we won’t lose hope yet…
It is sad to see that the entertainment industry does not exist in any form in the minds of those who head our government. The fact that we were not even mentioned or looked at sends depressing signals of times to come. We are the cultural ambassadors of the country and we don’t even get our due recognition and space.
CEO, the Film and Television Producers Guild of India:
This budget is disappointing. Our industry has been struggling due to multiple taxes and poor infrastructure and it will be a while before we grow to our full potential. May be we need to blame ourselves that we could not sensitise the government enough as to how the film industry can play a significant role in promoting tourism and providing significant employment opportunities.
Industry expectations that were communicated to the finance ministry and the Minsitry of Information and Broadcasting:
>> Abolition of the service tax on artistes
>> Reinstatement of the earlier exemption on service tax for digital distribution of films
>> Reduction and rationalisation of state level entertainment taxes
>> Tax incentives/holiday to encourage investments in cinema screens
>> Budget allocation for anti-piracy campaign and measures