After Delhi High Court declined to interfere with the government’s levy of 50 per cent entertainment tax on ramp shows organised by the FDCI (including the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week), the fashion fraternity is questioning on what basis their work is being termed as ‘entertainment’. FDCI (Fashion Design Council of India) has taken a stand that since there is no payment for entry to anyone for its events, no entertainment tax can be levied.
Even the issue of denial of exemption would become irrelevant as exemption can be claimed only if the event is taxable. The recent HC judgement on the issue is not against FDCI and it is yet to be decided. In a statement issued by FDCI, its President Sunil Sethi said, “We are looking forward to approach Entertainment Tax Department soon. Only after we hear from them can we take any further step, though we are hopeful of a reasonable decision from them.”
Meanwhile, designers have expressed their displeasure over the levy of tax and are backing Sethi’s decision of shifting the fashion week out of Delhi. And though, by doing so, they might lose out on revenues, designers feel that the organisers are left with no other choice due to the government’s this decision. Supporting the FDCI stand, designer Rina Dhaka opines, “The British Prime Minister goes to watch shows at London Fashion Week and also appreciates fashion industry. But here, we are not even considered serious business people. If Sunil Sethi (President, FDCI) is talking about shifting the shows outside Delhi, he’s just finding a solution to our problems. We wouldn’t want to move out of the city, but that seems to be the only way.”
Reiterating the similar sentiment, designer Narendra Kumar Ahmed said, “The government has been setting up multiple fashion schools the last few years so that they educate students, but who is going to employ them? The government is taking away employment opportunities from thousands of students. This is a simple example of how wrong the system is, and this seems to be an attempt to throttle and shrink the fashion industry, which is a source of revenue for thousands of people. As an industry, we employ so many people. During a fashion event, we do get some limelight, we give interviews, but at the end it is a work for us, we are slogging and paying taxes too.”
According to the designer fraternity, it is the nature of their work that adds glamour, and entertainment value to it, but they do it to sell their designs and make livelihood. Talking of big shows held internationally, no fashion industry sector gets taxed there.