Foreign films and foreign content will be taxed as proposed by Federal Board of Revenue, says Fawad Chaudhry.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said that under a new film policy, foreign content would be taxed and that a proposal to the Federal Board of Revenue had also been made to tax imported dramas, in order to protect the local entertainment industry.
Addressing a signing ceremony of a MoU signed between Ministry of Information, National Arts Council and PTV regarding National Entertainment Awards, the minister underlined the need for promoting film, drama, music and culture to effectively present the national narrative at the international level.
He said that political debates did not promote the national narrative as effectively as do the mediums of entertainment.
The minister said the next National Entertainment Awards would be the largest in the history of the country.
During the ceremony, 22 awards would be given in film, television and music categories and Rs 250 million would be allocated for these awards, he said.
Chaudhry said during the past few decades, the various mediums to tell the story of Pakistan have been weakened.
In 1960s, Pakistan was the third largest film producing country and it was fourth in the world in the number of screens, he said, adding that unfortunately the film, drama and music industry was ruined during the past few decades.
He said the new film policy would give many incentives to the local film makers, whereas foreign content would be taxed. Chaudhry said that he proposed to the FBR that imported dramas be taxed to protect the local entertainment industry.
Instead of foreign artists, casting of local ones in advertisement would be encouraged, he added. Pakistan has beautiful landscapes, he said, announcing a one-window system to attract foreign filmmakers to shoot their movies here.
He said a film division has been set up at Pakistan Television (PTV) which would encourage young filmmakers. The national TV film division is producing two big budget movies on the lives of Mughal King Babar and national poet Allama Iqbal with the collaboration of Uzbekistan and Iran, respectively, the minister revealed.
Moreover, a private firm is making a film on the life of Tipu Sultan. He said special focus was being given to the revival of cinema halls and they were being given industrial tariff rates instead of commercial ones.
Chaudhry said he had personally approached the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) for the reopening of cinema houses in the country. He said for the first time, entertainment channels were included in the advertisement policy of the ministry so that they could flourish.
Speaking on the occasion, President Arts Council of Pakistan Muhammad Ahmed Shah said the national awards, to be held under the patronisation of the government, would be “totally merit-based and no favours would be given to anyone”. He said the Arts Council would host the next international Urdu Conference in Islamabad in March.
He said Urdu is the national language which unites the entire nation above ethnic and religious divides and this conference would strengthen the federation and national harmony.