Budget 2019 expectations: Cricket and films have a huge following in India. While the popularity of Indian Premier League (IPL) and some smart business moves by BCCI have turned the country into one of the most lucrative cricket markets in the world, same can not be said for the film industry. Notwithstanding the fact that India produces among the highest number of movies in the world, the Indian film exhibition industry is largely untapped with less than the one-fifth number of screens present in developed markets such as the US and China. So, what can FM Arun Jaitleydo in his Budget 2019 to make the Indian film market grow like China and the US?
FICCI in its pre-Budget 2019 memorandum has said that there has been de-growth in screen-counts in India over the past few years. China has recorded phenomenal growth which can partly be attributed to a lower tax rate, the FICCI said. FICCI has listed a few recommendations for the central government to ponder over in the Interim Budget 2019. These suggestions are subsidies for the film exhibition industry similar to the one in section 80HHF of the Income-tax Act 1961 which has been discontinued, tax holiday period, lower rates and weighted deductions. FICCI said these would help increase penetration of the exhibition industry in Tier 2 and 3 cities.
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In the last two years, several Bollywood movies have shown the capacity and potential of the Chinese market. Aamir Khan-starrer Dangal and Secret Superstar, Irrfan Khan’s Hindi Medium and Rani Mukerji Chopra’s Hichki enjoyed stellar box office successes in China which is now termed as the goose that lays golden eggs. Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar’s blockbuster 2.0 will be released in a staggering 56,000 screens in China.
Recently, the central government lowered the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates on movie tickets. The move was appreciated by the film fraternity. The Finance Ministry in a statement said that GST rate on cinema tickets above Rs. 100 was reduced from 28 per cent to 18 per cent. The GST rate on cinema tickets up to Rs 100 from was lowered from 18 per cent to 12 per cent.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will present the Modi government’s final Union Budget 2019 on February 1.