The All India Film Producers' Council, Indian Motion Picture Distributors' Association, Theatre Owners' Association and Cinematograph Exhibitors' Association of India have threatened to go on an indefinite strike and down cinema shutters in Maharashtra from 16th June to protest against the state government's decision to impose a 4% Sales Tax on transfer of Copyright, which has been effected from 1st May. The tax, which will force producers, distributors, exhibitors and even actors to pay four per cent of their earnings to the government, has angered the entire industry. A high-level delegation of the film industry will meet the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Vilasrao Deshmukh, on 5th June to press for the withdrawal of the tax, failing which the industry will take the recourse of closing down over 1,116 cinema houses in Maharashtra. Earlier, on 27th May, A.I.F.P.C. President Pahlaj Nihalani wrote to the Chief Minister stating that the proposed tax will adversely affect the already over-burdened industry, which has to pay taxes at every stage, right from buying of raw stock. The letter also mentions that the Godbole Commission [formed in 1986 under the Chairmanship of the then Finance Secretary, Madhav Godbole, when the industry went on a one-month strike due to the imposition of Sales Tax] had in its report stated that "Films are not sold but only exhibition rights are transferred under the Bombay Sales Tax Act, 1959. There should be no Sales Tax on transfer of copyrights by film producers." It was on the basis of the above-mentioned report that the then government had abolished Sales Tax. The Indian Motion Picture Producers' Association and Film Makers' Combine have also expressed shock and have written a letter (dated 30th May) to the Chief Minister. Meanwhile, the producers of Josh are going ahead with the release of the film next week, on 9th June. "There is no question of postponing the release of Josh, since we are confident that the meeting on 5th June with the Chief Minister will yield positive results. The government is bound to withdraw the Sales Tax," an optimistic Ganesh Jain told this writer. By Taran Adarsh (Taran is the editor of Trade Guide and writes for IndiaFM)
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