For the first time in the country, Kerala has readied a centrally-run, server-based e-ticketing mechanism for movie houses. The state government will also roll out its e-booking app to reserve movie tickets within two months. The online e-ticketing facility for movies, enabled with GST (goods and services tax) norms, is open through the Kerala government website from Tuesday. However, in the initial phase, this facility is operative only for movie houses run by state-owned Kerala State Film Development Corporation (KSFDC). In the second phase, this facility will be available to all movie houses in the state. “The idea is to plug leakages in tax due to the state government and ensure transparency in ticket vending,” Kerala IT secretary M Sivasankar told FE. “It would be a win-win situation for the end-user in the movie industry and for the state government because the movie-goer would not have to cough up an exorbitant amount that the private ticket-vending sites charge the buyer,” he says. The movie-goer will have to pay, in addition to the ticket cost, only a service charge for using the bill-desk payment gateway. This will be calculated based on the total ticket bill amount instead of the number of tickets.
As DCRs (daily collection reports) of movies were reportedly doctored to skip the distributor’s share and the entertainment tax, the Kerala government was forced to undertake the e-ticketing business through a transparent platform. Although the size of Kerala movie industry had been long estimated as Rs 500 crore, in the last year, movies that gross Rs 100 crore to Rs 150 crore have been on the rise. Movie tickets will incorporate a 28% GST. Information Kerala Mission (IKM) and Local Self Government Department (LSGD) had teamed up to develop software and put systems in place to run e-ticketing in the movie houses throughout the State.
As the inclusion of GST does not nullify the entertainment tax set up by local bodies (10%, 20% and 25% respectively in panchayats, muncipalities and corporations) in Kerala, the film industry has been a worried lot. Producers and exhibitors had met the state finance minister TM Thomas Isaac on the possibility of high mark-ups in the ticket price. “While Dr Isaac has assured that the state government will ask civic bodies to stop charging the entertainment tax, our apprehensions on the price-competitiveness continue to be live,” says Suresh Kumar, a noted film producer.