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Ambika Soni offers to lead film delegation to FM on service tax issue

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NEW DELHI: Faced with the prospect of a nationwide full-day shut down of the film industry, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni today offered to lead a delegation of filmmakers to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee over the Government?s proposal to levy 10.3 per cent service tax.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event here, Soni said: "I have offered that we can all go together to Finance Minister". She also stated that she was not sure if the industry would go on a strike on 23 February.

"The filmmakers have apprehension that service tax of about 10 per cent will be levied in the coming budget. They do not want this. I had spoken to Mahesh Bhatt yesterday,? she said.

At the same time, she wanted the film industry to understand the compulsions of the Finance Minister who had been talking about funds needed for welfare measures of the government, including right to food, right to education and his position "was also tight."

However, film industry sources said the proposal for the tax had been taken some years earlier but it was not being levied until recently when the Finance Ministry said this tax was deductible from the exhibitors.

There are approximately 10,000 theatres in India, including 750 in multiplexes. It is felt that if the Central government goes ahead with its proposal, the budget of films will shoot up.

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