Lockdown: Cinema hall owners' body urges Bengal govt for aid,

loans, tax waiver

Kolkata, May 13 () Cinema hall owners in WestBengal have urged the state government to waive their taxesand provide financial assistance and interest-free loans tothem in view of the closure of the movie screens due to thelockdown.

The Eastern India Motion Pictures Association (EIMPA),Exhibitors' Section, in a recent letter to Chief MinisterMamata Banerjee, has urged the state government to reimburseat least 50 per cent of the salaries paid by the cinema hallowners to their employees during the lockdown period.

The association has also sought interest-free loans ofRs 2 lakh per cinema hall after reopening of theestablishments so that the owners can pay their backlogs andreturn to business, the letter, made available to the media onWednesday, said.Advertisement

The body said it would take at least 18 months for thesector to return anywhere close to normalcy after the lockdownis lifted.

It urged the state government to waive GST, show tax,local entertainment tax, property tax and other municipaltaxes for at least two years from the date of closure of thecinema halls.

The association sought nominal imposition of servicetax so that cinema hall owners can upgrade the facilities.

"The effects of COVID-19 are nil revenue withsalaries, taxes, rent payments, electricity bills all accruingagainst zero revenue. Cinemas were the first to shut down andmaybe one of the last to be allowed to operate post-lockdown,"the letter said.

It pointed out that over 500 single screens in WestBengal have downed their shutters over the last two decadesdue to a gradual decline in audience numbers and lack offunding to upgrade the facilities."The COVID-19 pandemic has struck the final blow tothe sector," the association said.Advertisement

EIMPA Exhibitors' Section Chairman Ratan Saha told on Wednesday, "If there is no incentive in the post-lockdownscenario for single screens and regional multiplexes, theowners, who will have to reduce seating capacity by 60-70 percent to maintain social distancing, will have to close downthe facilities and use the properties for other purposes."

The association boasts of membership of owners of morethan 200 cinema halls in the state. SUSACD ACD

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