The Kerala Government, on Wednesday, announced that it will waive the entertainment tax levied on movie tickets from April 1 to December 31 of this financial year.
The decision was taken at a meeting called by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to discuss the issues faced by theatre owners ever since the Covid-19 pandemic struck. Along with this, it was also decided that theatres will also be permitted to pay the rest of the sum in six installments.
In January this year when theatre owners were allowed to reopen the shutters of their movie halls after more than nine months of closure, several of them had asked the government to consider waiving off the entertainment tax and also the Fixed Electricity Charges for the time the theatres remained shut. This time around too when theatres were allowed to reopen last month, the owners echoed similar requests from the government.
On Wednesday, along with waiving off the entertainment tax. the state decided to slash 50% of the fixed electricity charges and allow theatre owners to repay the outstanding or remaining amount in six installments. The government also decided to waive the building tax of theatres that were closed down during the Covid-19 period completely, Suresh Shenoy, the owner of Shenoys Theatre in Kochi, told Silverscreen India.
“Our total demands were more than five out which the government has addressed three already. The entertainment tax has been waivered till December 31 but we have been promised a further extension of this for another year after discussions in November. The next waiver we received was of 50% electricity charges, which itself is a huge amount. Another benefit we got was the extension of licenses, which had expired, till December. So, theatre owners whose licenses have expired during Covid can continue screening till December and get it rectified in the meantime.”
Talking about the remaining benefits which have been sought, Shenoy said that the government will soon take those into consideration and will discuss them in the coming 4-5 days. “A relief we have sought is a package of 10 lakh working capital for theatres, which will be payable over a period of two years with nominal interest. This will be to help revive the industry.”
“Another benefit that we asked for is increasing the theatre maintenance charge from Rs 2 to Rs 5. Presently, a 2 rupees charge is allowed to be taken from each ticket for maintenance of the theatres. We have requested to increase it considering the increasing costs to cover the Covid protocols.”
While currently, the theatres are running small Malayalam films along with Akshay Kumar‘s Sooryavanshi and Rajinikanth‘s Annaatthe, Dulquer Salmaan‘s Kurup could be one of the bigger releases in the coming days which will revive the theatres in the state again.