Having taken a hit following the implementation of the goods and services tax (GST), owners of single-screen theatres feel their businesses will not survive any additional local body entertainment tax (LBET).
The members of the Poona Exhibitors Association (PEA) — a body of single-screen theatre owners in the city and region — have threatened to call a strike in response to government's potential implementation of LBET and its unwillingness to let screen owners redevelop their properties.
"If the government passes a law enabling the local bodies to charge LBET, we will have no option but to go on a strike.Double taxation, like the LBET, makes GST redundant," said Deepak Kudale, president of the Cinema Owners and Exhibitors Association of India (COEAI), while addressing a news conference on Wednesday. He added that the body would approach revenue minister Chandrakant Patil, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to ensure that such a tax is not imposed.
The city exhibitors' body added that single-screen business was also facing competition from bigger players. "There are only 15 single-screen theatres operating in Pune now. The GST council had decided to tax tickets below Rs100 at 18%, but now multiplexes have reduced their ticket rates to compete with us," says Dilip Nikam, the PEA secretary. Nikam owns Vijay Talkies on Laxmi Road.
Kudale said theatre owners should be allowed to exit the business or redevelop theatres into financially viable ventures.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu has started implementing LBET. It is imposing 10% LBET on Tamil films, and 20% on other films. The Multiplex Association of India (MAI) has declared a strike in the Chennai metropolitan area.