Kerala film exhibitors put forward demands including theatre reopening and financial package

A closed movie theater amid the spread of Coronavirus in Kerala. File Photo.

A closed movie theater amid the spread of Coronavirus in Kerala. File Photo.

The Film Exhibitors United Organisation of Kerala (FEUOK) has put forward a set of demands to the State government, including the re-opening of all cinema theatres in the state with four daily shows, to save the struggling sector. One of the other major demands is for inclusion of cinema theatre employees in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination, so that theatres can be reopened by ensuring all safety protocols and a financial package to aid theatres which have sustained huge losses to reopen.

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The State government had in January decided to waive entertainment tax from January to March. The fixed electricity charges were also reduced by 50% for the ten month period when the theatres remained shut during the first wave of COVID-19. The FEUOK has now demanded that the entertainment tax, which was announced by the government to compensate the local bodies for the losses incurred after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), be completely withdrawn.

Additionally, it has asked the government for a complete waiver of fixed electricity charges from March 2020 to December 2021, as the theatres were running on low occupancy even during the short period before the second wave in which they were allowed to function. The Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) is also attempting to classify the renovated theatres which have multiple screens as multiplexes, so that higher charges can be levied. This also should be avoided. The fine amount imposed on some theatres which used up more power than the connected load, due to more number of shows during the festival season, also should be waived, said the FEUOK office bearers.

Many of the workers in the sector have been unable to pay their contributions to the welfare fund due to the losses sustained in the pandemic period. The government should allow this outstanding amount to be paid as 12 instalments after the re-opening of the theatres. Since an amount of ₹3 per ticket is going to the welfare fund, the exhibitors' contributions to the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy and the Kerala State Film Development Corporation need to be waived.

The existing license period should be extended by atleast three more months. Since the theatres have remained closed for a better part of the year, the building tax, professional tax and license fee, payable to the respective local body, should be waived, said the FEUOK office bearers.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 5:30:58 pm |