Cinemas paid no entertainment tax since 2005, PA told
KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was informed on Tuesday that no entertainment duty had been collected from cinemas since Sept 2005, when the step was taken to save the entertainment industry from a financial crisis.
The decision to exempt picture houses from entertainment duty was taken by the governor after a meeting with cinema owners, who briefed him on the financial crisis faced by the industry.
This was stated here in the house by provincial minister for excise and taxation Mukesh Kumar Chawla while replying to supplementary questions of legislators pertaining to his department.
The minister also submitted in the house that the exemption was granted on a verbal order of the governor and the matter was yet to be debated by the members for proper legislation.
Syed Sardar Ahmed and Humaira Alwani suggested proper legislation for the exemption of entertainment tax on cinemas instead of sticking to verbal orders issued by the governor.
Mr Chawla endorsed the proposal and said a summary in this regard would be sent to the law department soon.
The minister said the governor had issued directives back in 2005 to exempt cinemas from entertainment tax apparently due to their weak financial conditions. However, since 2009 the industry had started becoming financially stable. He said letters had been written several times to the relevant authorities to issue written orders for exempting cinemas from entertainment tax so that that account could be cleared by the audit department, but no response had been received so far.
The minister assured the house that the issue would soon to be taken to the authorities concerned to take a final decision on it.
The minister told the house that the government was collecting entertainment duty from amusement parks, dramas and musical shows, exhibitions, fairs and circuses and sport events.
In reply to a question of MPA Saifuddin Khalid, the minister said Rs55,810,638 had been collected under different heads in Karachi, Hyderabad, Mirpukhas, Sukkur and Larkana from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011.
In his written reply to a question of Nusrat Seher Abassi regarding computerisation of the property tax record, the minister said the computerisation of property tax record in Sindh was under execution and it was near completion in Karachi.
Elaborating, he said necessary equipment – hardware/network and furniture fixture – had been installed and development of software applications completed, and the process of data entry was in progress.
He also informed the house that due to the importance of the work of data capturing /migration, the department had decided to extend the completion period to June 12, 2012.
According to him, the present status of data migration was: Karachi division 89 per cent and the other districts in Sindh 36pc.
He went on to say that the B division of Karachi, comprising M.A. Jinnah Road and I. I. Chundrigar Road, was being started on a “test run” basis as a model division for the computerisation of property tax.
He added that further data of 12 divisions of Karachi had been completed and a comprehensive plan had been prepared to execute the project throughout Sindh.
The minister also said that a total of nine drug traffickers were arrested with three each in the districts of Dadu, Mirpurkhas and Shikarpur, and 170, 270 and 270 kilograms of hashish was seized from them, respectively, during 2010 and 2011.
Heer Ismail Soho said she was surprised by the statistics provided by the minister as it was unusual and interesting that the number of suspects arrested in each district and the quantity of narcotics seized from two of them was the same.
She urged the minister to conduct an inquiry into the matter. Mr Chawla said all arrested suspects were under trial and a decision of court was awaited.