Incentives for film industry in the offing
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LAHORE- The Punjab government is actively considering to support the crumbling film industry through various incentives, one of them being to fix or reduce the rate of excise duty on cinema houses.
Official sources informed that the package of incentives had almost been finalised and it was likely to be sent to the competent authorities for final approval in a day or two.
There were around 900 cinema houses in Pakistan only a few years ago but half of them have reportedly been closed down or converted into plazas due to bleak business prospects and high rates of taxes.
The excise duty has reportedly been a source of trouble particularly for the cinema owners in the Punjab because of its high rate, which is lower in other provinces. The rate is 65 per cent of every ticket in Punjab whereas it is 50 to 40 per cent in other provinces.
Sources said the Punjab had been earning an average of Rs 190 million annually through the excise duty on cinema houses. But this was reduced to Rs 160 million last year due to the closure of many cinema houses in the province.
In order to support the cinema industry the NAFDEC chairman had been calling for a tax holiday but the idea developed instead was to bring down the rate of the excise duty to the level of other provinces or to start collecting it on a fixed (flat) rate basis.
In case of approval of the flat rate idea the duty would be linked to the seating capacity of every cinema on per show basis and collected periodically.
This would not only provide a relief to the cinema owners but also help the government to by pass the not-so-reliable tax collection system,” sources said.
Sources said another incentive would be to promote the multiplexes concept whereby there would not bar on constructing plazas at the site of the cinema houses. But these must have new movie houses of the seating capacity of the pulled down ones.
There were chances of the removal of 15 per cent surcharges on air-conditioning which the officials considered a break-through. Because, they said, it would not only give some relief to the owners but also made them run air-conditioners, which they used to avoid at present. Yet another major incentive might be the rationalization of a number of other taxes on cinema houses being collected by different agencies like the municipal corporation and the public works department.
According to the idea, the sources maintained the taxes would be lowered down to the bare minimum level and collected by a single agency to end the duplication. “There were chances that these taxes would be withdrawn altogether,” they said.
They said in addition to the incentives to the owners the government was also actively considering to ensure facilities to the cinema goers.
These will include better seating facilities, cleanliness, good quality and low rate eatables, proper security arrangements, courteous staff and an atmosphere suitable for families to watch movies.
“At present most people do not go to cinema houses mainly because of the lack of these facilities which the government wants to ensure at any cost,” sources said.