Govt. orders property tax waiver for single screen theatres
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Govt. orders property tax waiver for single screen theatres

July 9, 2021

Bengaluru: The Karnataka Government has ordered a complete waiver of property tax on single screen theatres for the 2021-22 financial year. After the Karnataka State Film Exhibitors Association (KSFEA) submitted a detailed memorandum to Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, the latter directed the officials to issue an order waiving property tax with immediate effect.

According to the order, the property tax waiver for single screen theatres will cost the State exchequer Rs. 9 crore. The decision comes at a time single screen theatres are reeling under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns enforced due to it. 

Many single screen theatres in the State including a couple of them in Mysuru have shut down or are on the verge of shutting down permanently. The KSFEA in its memorandum stated that with theatres remaining shut for almost 15 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic since March last year, barring a short window between February and April this year, the theatre owners have suffered huge losses.

The Association said that no audience is likely to visit the theatres during this time and many theatres are on the verge of shutting down. There are 630 single-screen theatres in the State. Over the past year, the theatres hardly opened for a month or two, following an unlock after the first wave of the pandemic.

“We will never recover from this without aid. Even if the Government allows us to open, we are expecting people to avoid crowded areas. Even if we open, we are expecting a loss of 40 percent,” Association members said. 

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On their part, theatre owners said that because of the lockdown which has denied them income, the monthly expenses have driven them to a loss and many theatre owners have taken loans to be able to pay their employees and also maintain the theatres. 

Even though they were open, the theatres could operate only at 50 percent capacity. Hence, the theatres could barely make up for the losses they incurred, according to the Association.

The Government order also stated that theatres may be allowed to operate for a month or two and that too at 50 percent capacity.

The Government note said that while the Karnataka had extended relief of Rs. 3,000 to each of 22,000 employees in the film industry, the property tax waiver was given considering the lack of business owing to the anticipated third wave of COVID-19.

According to data provided by the Karnataka Exhibitors’ Association, the collective of 630 theatre owners have ended up paying Rs. 10 crore in salaries for around 8,000 employees. The theatre owners have spent Rs. 5 crore for property tax, Rs. 1 crore for electricity bill and Rs. 3 crore for maintaining the interiors of the theatre.

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