GST Effect: Around 1,000 cinema houses will remain shut on Monday, marking the first day of the indefinite strike called by theatre owners to protest against the imposition of 30 per cent local body tax in addition to the 28 per cent Goods and Services (GST) on firm trade.
"Though the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Association had decided on Friday to cancel shows from July 3, many theatres shut down yesterday itself," president of the association, Abirami Ramanathan said, adding about 1,000 cinema halls state-wide are shut now.
The strike will affect 10 Tamil films that released in the past two weeks in Tamil Nadu – the only state that has announced a separate tax in addition to the GST.
Speaking to reporters here, Ramanathan, who is also chief of the Tamil Film Chamber of Commerce, said theatres were shut due to "our inability to pay (taxes) and our move is not against the government."
"The local body tax of 30 per cent is in addition to the GST tax rate of 28 per cent (for tickets over Rs 100) and 18 per cent (for tickets priced less than Rs 100)," he told.
To a question, he said an additional levy of about eight per cent under GST over 30 per cent local body tax had pushed the total taxes to over 60 per cent.
He urged the government to immediately scrap the local body tax of 30 per cent, saying such a move would automatically take away the additional levy of eight per cent under GST.
"If we screen movies, we have to pay local body taxes immediately as it came into force from yesterday. We are closing since there is no other way out," he said.
Ramanathan claimed that only in India do cinema theatres have no right to fix ticket prices.
"We cannot increase prices for big ticket movies," he said, adding they could not lower it for small budget movies either.
"We have requested the government to fix a threshold within which we should be allowed to either increase or cut down ticket prices as per the need," he said.
He added about 10 lakh persons were dependent on the film industry to eke out a living.
(With PTI inputs)