I&B Minister to meet Finance Minister to discuss service tax issue

Yesterday, the Information and Broadcasting ministry said it would support the film fraternity’s protest against the government’s decision to levy high service tax on actors. The latest we hear is that the I&B minister Manish Tewari will meet the Union Finance minister to discuss withdrawal of the 12.36 percent service tax. “We are with the industry and will support them entirely,” I&B secretary Uday Kumar Verma told reporters in Mumbai and added, “We will request the finance minister to reconsider the decision. We shall also support the fraternity in their demand to roll back the tax.”

However, Verma said that since I&B ministry has no control over the taxation process, he could not promise if the tax would be rolled back or reduced. Though producers, distributors and exhibitors were kept out of the tax ambit, actors, directors, photographers and choreographers were included. Bollywood is also likely to call for a strike to protest against the decision. “We will decide if we have to call for a strike. It’s not our choice, we are compelled to do so,” Mukesh Bhatt, president of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India, had told IANS earlier this week.

Down south, leading actors, directors and theatre owners went on a hunger-strike on January 7 in Chennai demanding that the service tax be scrapped. Tamil superstar Rajinikanth had joined the day-long protest. We hope justice prevails.