After Arun Jaitley’s Union Budget 2017 address, many industries can heave a sigh of relief. Bollywood, however, is not one of these industries. Members of the film fraternity have expressed their dismay at how the entertainment industry was left out altogether during the Finance Minister’s speech. Many had hoped prior to February 1 that the entertainment tax and the problem of dual taxation for TV and movie producers would be addressed this financial year. However, those hopes were dashed after the Union Budget speech made it clear that the focus would be on the rural and agricultural sectors.
Some Bollywood biggies had hoped for the issue of piracy, which results in a huge amount of loss for filmmakers, to be tackled. Others felt that the government policies of the past had created an environment which made it impossible for the film industry to flourish on a small scale. For instance, indie movies are barely left with profits after the taxes they have to pay, while it is near impossible to open a theatre in small towns. Many had hoped that adequate funds would be allocated to take such issues head on.
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This is not the first year that the Union Budget has left Bollywood unhappy. Several stars from Twinkle Khanna to Kabir Khan have lamented about the high taxes they have to pay, while others like Shilpa Shetty had voiced the need for health and retirement safety schemes for members of the film industry. Still others have pointed out that while Bollywood hotshots can bear the brunt of high taxes, the smaller players in the industry – particularly that segment which is not part of films, but public performances like circuses – are not able to cope with the heavy taxes. Maybe next year, B-town.