Entertainment industry submits its budget wish list to Swaraj

A five-year service tax holiday and waiver of customs duty on broadcast uplinking equipment figured prominently in the entertainment industry's pre budget pitch to information & broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday.

The delegation comprising Ficci, CII and the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) met Swaraj and made a strong representation on several issues that have dogged the industry. Maintaining that the service tax on broadcasting would fetch the government only Rs 1450 million, the representatives asked Swaraj to seek a five-year tax holiday from finance minister Yashwant Sinha. Swaraj is scheduled to meet Sinha on 16 January with the representations. Delegates of the three organizations were unanimous in seeking removal of customs duty on uplinking, downlinking and cinematographic equipment.

A CII release says the chamber has recommended that the customs duties on content creation software like digital camcorders, digital video and tape recorder, digital video tapes and video monitories, which are between 51 and 63 per cent, should be abolished in five years. CII has said that all recorded CDs should be exempted from excise duty and if not possible, a flat rate of Rs 4-5 should be levied. On the issue of piracy, CII has said that an anti-piracy fund should be set up with contributions to such funds be exempted from income tax. 

While at it, the industry has also sought the setting up of a Rs 1000-million fund to enable small and medium newspapers easy access to low interest funds. Co-chairman of the Ficci entertainment committee Amit Khanna has said that the delegation also sought the rationalisation of certain direct taxes, including that pertaining to advance tax on films. Among those who attended Monday's meeting were Aaj Tak CEO G Krishnan, Sahara TV's Mahesh Prasad, ESPN country head Manu Sawhney, IBF executive director Bhuvan Lal and CII president Sanjiv Goenka.

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