Entertainment tax: Industry reacts

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Industry stakeholders speak exclusively to IBPulse on Oyo govt’s proposed entertainment permits

 

 

In few days’ time, a popular free music show that promotes local talents in Ibadan, RepYourHood, would be held in Ibadan and for the first time since it began about 7 editions ago, the organizers are getting the attention of the corporate world with the involvement of the MTN Foundation, Spinlet among others. Akeeb Lawal, CEO of Gberatinrin Studio (GTS), convener of RepYourHood, can now begin to be positive about the future of the show he had bankrolled on his own. But not so fast.

The organizers will now have to pay to get what Oyo State Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism described as entertainment permits. According to Yomi Layinka, Special Adviser, Communication & Strategy, Office of the Governor, the announcement that entertainment show promoters should request and get appropriate government permits is being made in the collective interests of all stakeholders.

In a statement aimed at clarifying the position of the government on the matter, Layinka said what the government wanted to achieve with the announcement was to organize the various stakeholder groups into a coordinated network of business interests that are commercially viable and socially sustainable.

“It is similarly aimed at ensuring compliance with extant rules and regulations that guide the proper operations of businesses within the entertainment and tourism fields in Oyo state,” Layinka stated.

Even though the process is in its earliest beginnings, Layinka said the government of the state is committed to the ‘building of enduring structures, not only for the entertainment and allied industries, but for all businesses and professions that provide opportunities for creative self-expression for our teeming youngsters across the nooks and crannies of our state.’

Industry rejects policy

In spite of the attempt of the state government;s media team to soften the message conveyed by the new permit, the stakeholders in the entertainment industry in Oyo state were unequivocal in condemning the move of the state government. On social media, popular event organizers including ace comedian LafUp, spoke against the move by Oyo state government.

Between the time the government announced the new permit and the time of going to press, there had been three general stakeholders’ meetings held to discuss the industry’s response to the move.

According to hip hop sensation, Tundey who records and shoots his music videos including Igboro in Ibadan, the move by the state government is not fair on the entertainers in the state. In an exclusive interview with IBPulse, Tundey said the entertainment permit is unheard of.

“I don’t know where in the world that you have to pay the government for an event after you’ve paid your tax,” he said.

According to him, the move will have far-reaching effects and would affect not just those who organize shows.

Widespread confusion

Considering the current way that event organizers go about their operations in Oyo state, the new law is expected to create a lot of confusion in the ecosystem as explained by comedian and on-air personality, Mister Rain.

He told IBPulse the word on the street is that government wants event organizers like him to pay a certain levy before they can put up a show.. But he noted that some things will not add up.

“Will someone who is organizing big shows pay the same amount of money with someone organizing a small event? Or will it be measured by supposed income to be earned by the event organizer?”

He organizes events once in a while and drawing from his experience, he said a typical event organizer will rarely be certain he will break even yet the state government is intending to add to the expense.

“Will clubs and lounges be asked to pay levy per night of shows? I think it’s a misplaced priority. Even if they do that, how much do they think they will make as part of revenue generating strategies? I really do not know what they have considered to come up with such decision but I am forced to think the message have been totally misinterpreted and hence they should clarify themselves.

“The event halls we use already pay taxes which means indirectly we have been paying levies to the government.”

Has Ajimobi done enough for the industry?

 

Several respondents told IBPulse that Oyo state government under Governor Abiola Ajimobi has not done enough for the entertainment industry for it to consider generating revenues from the sector.

“In what way or ways has the government encouraged the entertainers in the first place?” Mister Rain asked.

Entertainment entrepreneur, on-air personality and MTN Project Fame judge, Tony Rowland Awobode (Don Tee) also believe that the state government has not done enough for the entertainment industry. Speaking to IBPulse, Don Tee said Oyo state government is yet to participate and harness the economic potentials entertainment in its various forms can provide and the new policy suggested the government wanted to reap where it had not sown, much.

“Clearly the government hasn’t done enough. I don’t want to say they haven’t done anything. Defiantly they have in one way or the other. But out rightly imposing a levy on all social gathering because of revenue generation…What are the parameters used for tariff in the first place?”

According to him, show promoters in Oyo state face a lot of challenges putting events together without government support.

“Many at a loss,” he said.

“The appropriate ministries will hardly endorse your events, not to talk of sponsoring it. It’s like a father who wants returns from a yet to graduate child. It’s not proper,” Don Tee said.

Way forward

Don Tee believes that the best way forward is for the state government to consult stakeholders periodically and its policies should be formulated for the benefit of all.

“Yes, government can decide to enforce without consultation. Those kind of government have names they are called and the governed know what to do. There are constitutional guidelines. In this case I don’t think the present administration is inhuman or insensitive.”

He added that entertainment stakeholders in Oyo state have resolved to contribute to state development by participating in government’s development plan. He added that they are open to consultations in addressing the impasse if the government insists it wants to go ahead with the permit.

“The levy was unjustly suggested and we want it addressed for the interest of all. IGR is necessary and we are willing to contribute to it in more appropriate ways and to suggest other untapped avenues. Above all, we are calling on government to be more supportive in the entertainment sector. A lot of groups and individuals have sacrificed in the past and present to bring the vast sector to its position; now is the time for government to be more supportive in strategic ways.”

For Timi Adegbite who manages Ibadan247, Oyo state government should strive to nurture the industry to a level where they can tax stakeholders; he added that the government should support the industry first before trying to make money off it.

“I think for a state like ours with limited funds, not a lot can be done. But they can support by always putting our artistes’ interests first when it comes to events in the state. With the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS) now getting an upgrade, there should be a real focus on Ibadan and Oyo state talents.

“If we all support brand ‘Ibadan’, then the city will eventually be able to compete with the best talents in the country and Africa.”

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