The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill has come under criticism for putting Indian classical music concert tickets under the 28 per cent tax slab.
The organisers of the sixty fifth Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, scheduled to be held between December 13 to 17, have requested the government to exempt Indian classical music concerts from GST.
“All over the country, Indian classical music concerts have been affected by this oversight. The 28 per cent slab is for luxury expenditure, but classical music does not come under that. The tax rate is for tickets priced at Rs 250 or more.
An increase in the prices will create more problems in preserving and popularising traditional Indian classical music,” states Shrinivas Joshi, Executive President of the Arya Sangeet Prasarak Mandal and son of late Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, while addressing the media on this issue.
Regarding this concern, Joshi also mentioned that he wrote a letter to the state Finance Minister, Sudhir Mungantiwar.
“We sent a letter to him and he has assured us that he will take up the matter. Rajya Sabha MP for Maharashtra, Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, has also assured us that he will discuss the matter with Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley. We have requested them to ease the burden of GST on Indian classical music concerts.”
According to the classical vocalist, the request to exempt classical Indian music concerts from GST has also been supported by renowned musicians like Dr Prabha Atre, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Parveen Sultana, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Niladri Kumar among many more.
He further adds that the rise in price of tickets will affect the number of people attending the concert. “Classical Indian music isn’t a luxurious or glamorous field. It is neither commercial like Bollywood music concerts or cricket matches which are not taxed very high. Classical music is for everyone. We get a lot of people who are elderly or who may not be able to afford such high ticket prices.”
Last year, due to demonetisation, the festival had reduced the ticket prices for the first time in 13 years. Speaking of whether the drastic move had an effect on the festival, Joshi says, “It did have an effect especially on those who are much elder and not as digital savvy.”
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