Kerala govt waives entertainment tax for cinemas; theatres to reopen soon

The CM refused to allow theatres to run second shows in theatres

cinema-hall-theatre Representational image | via Onmanorama

In a move to help the film industry in the state, the Kerala government on Monday decided to waive entertainment tax for cinemas from January to March along with 50 per cent reduction in the fixed charges on electricity during the lockdown period since March last year.

The decision was taken after Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce officials met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in Thiruvananthapuram. The meeting was chaired by the chief minister and attended by Power Minister M.M. Mani, Minister for Local Self-government A.C. Moideen, Kerala State Electricity Board chairman N.S. Pillai, among others.

With regard to shows, CM mentioned for taking a wait and watch approach.

The CM refused to allow theatres to run second shows.

Major relief announced

The industry wanted the entertainment tax to be scrapped, arguing that such a tax was on top of the GST and, therefore, was double taxation. However, the government has done away with entertainment tax only for three months, from January to March this year.

The government is reluctant to do away with entertainment tax fully as it was one of the major sources of revenue for local bodies. The property tax these theatres had to pay before March 31, 2020, can now be paid in monthly instalments.

The government also informed that it cannot take any decision on the professional tax.

The deadline for obtaining licenses related to re safety, electrical inspectorate, local bodies, health and building fitness have been extended to March 31 this year.

Reopening date

"With such an assurance in hand, our organisations will meet at Ernakulam and decide on the opening of the cinemas," Antony Perumbavur, a producer and officer bearer of one of the film associations, told reporters after the meeting.

Buzz is that the theatres are likely to open by January 13, the day Tamil star Vijay's film Master is releasing.

As per the COVID-19 protocols, the theatres will only have 50 per cent occupancy, a measure suggested by the Union government.

Top actors Mammootty and Mohanlal besides popular stars, including Manju Warrier, Prithviraj Sukumaran, Asif Ali, Kunchacko Boban, Dulquer Salmaan, Nivin Pauly, Tovino Thomas, and Dileep, took to social media and thanked the chief minister for announcing concessions for the film industry.

Mohanlal expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the CM for announcing "concessions to energise Malayalam cinema".

Mammootty said the move could revive the Malayalam film industry which was in crisis.

"Lots of respect going out to our Honorable Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan for his efforts to breathe life back into the struggling Malayalam film industry," Dulquer Salmaan posted on Facebook. "The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't been easy on anyone and I sincerely hope his efforts will help pull everyone in the industry back on their feet," he added.