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Lanka levies heavy import tax on Hollywood, Bollywood products

Written by: Staff
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Colombo, July 6 (UNI) The Sri Lankan government today announced it would levy huge taxes on the imports of all popular Hollywood and Bollywood movies, dramas and commercial advertisements from July 1, in order to protect and promote local film and cinema industry.

According to finance ministry officials, the foreign commercials aired on local television stations would now cost Rs 10 lakh while Rs 75,000 would be taxed for each 30-minute film or drama and the tax income would be used to promote the local industry.

However, the films imported for the purpose of screeing at cinema halls will not be subjected to this taxation.

Tele-dramas and films imported and dubbed in native Sinahala or Tamil langagues will be taxed Rs 90,000 for each 30 minute segment.

''This is not a revenue generation method, but a policy directive to ensure the development of the arts,'' Treasury Secretary P B Jayasundara told reporters here, adding that Tamil language content was exempted from the tax as Sri Lanka produces very little of these programmes.

National Film Corporation Chairman Asoka Serasinghe pointed out that of the 57 films aired on local television channels each week, nearly 50 are in foreign languages and said that nearly 300 locally produced dramas are languishing on the shelves due to lack of airtime on television channels.

Claiming that the tax was not a communal or racial issue, referring to the island's Tamil community, Mr Jayasundara said all documentaries, educational dramas, movies and children's entertainment programmes have been exempted from the tax.

Though native Hindi speakers are virtually non-existent, subtitled Indian-made programmes are common on local TV stations.

Sri Lanka has nearly three million English speaking viewers.

UNI XC CS KN1811

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