FRAMES: Govt to mull including entertainment tax in GST

MUMBAI: The annual media and entertainment summit FICCI-Frames kicked off in Mumbai on 17 February.

Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting & External Affairs Anand Sharma said that the government would take up with the Empowered Committee on VAT the industry’s demand for subsuming entertainment tax in the Goods & Services Tax (GST), which is slated for introduction from April 2010.

Sharma said, “We will consider the entertainment industry’s demand, articulated by FICCI, for inclusion of entertainment tax in GST itself, so that there is single tax on the industry.”

Sharma also added that the Indian government and the film industry needed to work together in order to create a film awards, which would attract producers and actors globally and would be at par with the Oscars.

He stressed on the point that Indian film festivals needed to think out of the box in order to bring the world to India just like we attend global film festivals.

“If we all think on these lines, it will definitely be a significant contribution to the Indian film industry,” Sharma said.

Additionally, Sharma said that a regulatory framework from the technology point of view, like the one for the telecom industry, was under discussion and a decision was expected soon.

Responding to the observations by FICCI president Harsh Pati Singhania, Sharma said, “The government was prepared to consider the further requirements of the media and entertainment industry to weather the adverse fallout of the global economic crisis. The government had increased the DAVP advertisement rates by 24 per cent to give relief to the media industry in view of the recent hike in newsprint rates and recently the customs duty on imported newsprint has been lowered. We are still open and are willing to come out will a new relief packages to provide a stimulus to the industry.”

Film producer and director Karan Johar was appointed as the co-chairman of the FICCI Entertainment committee. Johar said, “I feel honored and privileged to be assigned this responsibility. I feel small to take this place and thank everyone who thought I was capable of taking this role. I am taking my father’s dream forward.”

With over 25 countries present at the summit a lot of networking and discussions relating to the media and entertainment took off.

Addressing the delegates regarding the current state of the film industry and the on going recession phase FICCI entertainment committee chairman and producer- director Yash Chopra said, “The Indian film Industry is feeling the pinch of the recession and this needs to be discussed. This is the time for correction. Somewhere we learnt, lost and grew. Today is not the time for confrontation or egos; it is time to build our industry. Our industry is slowing down, but I have faith that we will gain momentum.”

Chopra also brought to the notice of the I&B ministry the problem of state bans on films and said that the Censor Board should be the final certified authority and no state can ban a film.

The highlight of the session was Sushma Singh’s announcement on the initiatives taken by the I&B ministry. Singh said, “We have simplified the procedure for foreign filmmakers who want to shoot in India, the permission for which is processed by three weeks. The negotiation for co-production treaty with China and France is underway. The film industry needs to suggest a system whereby the co-production treaties canalized by us are mutually benefited by them. We have decided that Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune will be made into a global film school. Additionally we now also have the temperature control systems in place to help preserve archived films at the film archives in Pune.”

Singh also mentioned the ministry was considering a few initiatives regarding the DTH industry. When addressing the issue of the ongoing tiff between music labels and radio stations she said, “I hope and earnestly request them to come to a mutual agreement and sort out the issue.”

The inaugural session of FICCI Fames 2009 was also addressed by Intel Corporation vice president, legal & corporate affairs & director, Global Public Policy Donald M Whiteside. Special addresses were given by FICCI Entertainment Committee co-chairman and Sony Entertainment Network CEO Kunal Dasgupta, and FICCI Convergence Committee and Reliance Entertainment chairman Amit Khanna. Actress Deepika Padukone was present to light the lamp for commencement of the three day long seminar.