Indian media industry gives thumbs up to GST despite minor concerns

MUMBAI: Former Finance Minister of India P. Chidambaram dubbed the move "good sense triumphed" while commenting on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill that was okayed earlier in the week by the Indian Parliament. And, probably, it is a good move, though lot of fine-tuning still needs to be done and Indian industry is still calculating the pros and cons.

But a seven-hour debate in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) on Wednesday is nothing compared to the discussions on the issue that have been going on for over a decade in India during which time several Finance Ministers have come and gone pitching in for tax reforms that have been mired in political discussions and fights.

Now that the Parliament has given the green signal to GST to be ushered in the country the ifs and whys still need answering leading to more questions like ‘what’ and ‘how’ because the rate of taxation under GST regime is still to be firmed up though 18 per cent is an indicative figure that is being bandied around in political and industry circles.

Here are a few reactions from the media and entertainment industry where execs are still trying to read the fine prints of political-speak.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) M Venkaiah Naidu termed the passage of GST Bill as “historic” adding that “it’s a victory of people” as “good days” beckon the country.

MIB Junior Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore also said that it was a historic day for India and tweeted “a new era is about to begin as uniformity across markets in India would pave way for unity in diversity”.

ZEEL, MD and CEO Punit Goenka:  GST will certainly bring in uniformity across businesses in the media sector. Especially for the film studios who can now lower their costs. Multiplex chains will also benefit a lot with uniformed taxes, resulting into reduction of the average ticket prices!

Colors TV CEO & Advertising Club of India President Raj Nayak: I think it (proposition of GST) is the best thing that has happened to our country. I must congratulate the Finance Minister and leaders of all political parties for setting aside differences for a common purpose, which will help in the progress of the country. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi described it is `the best example of cooperative federalism.’ The passage of the Bill, along with a good monsoon, will usher in an overall positive business sentiment. I see this translating into advertising spends seeing an upward trend in the coming months, which will be good for broadcasting sector.

Publicis India -South Asia CEO & AAAI President Nakul Chopra: Everyone is hopeful that in the long run this will benefit our economy. While right now we are concerned about its implications on our (advertising) industry as we are a multi-locational service providers. If GST positively impacts our client, it would eventually benefit us as well. Though there are some legitimate concerns that the advertising industry has over GST, we will try to address them as an association.

Videocon d2h  CEO Anil Khera: GST is a welcome step. It will unify the indirect tax administration in India and help the country in two ways. First, it will simplify (the tax regime) and make it easy for the consumers to understand their tax split up. Second, it will significantly improve the ease of doing business in India. As a DTH operator, GST will help us to be more efficient in our business.

Travelxp and  Media Worldwide CEO Prashanth Chothani: There won't be much impact (on the broadcasters’ ad revenues). The current rate that stands at 15 percent may increase to 18 percent. This might mean that the advertising cost will go up but advertising is directly related to consumer needs. If people have money to spend and they are consuming products,  brands will market and advertise.

From the reactions it seems that the media and entertainment industry, by and large, has reacted positively to the proposed tax reforms. As it is in all such cases there are some creases, but the media and entertainment industry is willing to look at the brighter side of GST and the promised economic growth.

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