JVP rises to defend struggling artistes from taxes

Accuses govt of trying to create cultural desert

New tax laws would deal a severe blow to artistes and turn the country into a cultural deserts, JVP’s Society for Socialist Art (SSA) said on Wednesday.

Addressing a press conference at the JVP headquarters, Convener of the SSA, JVP MP Bimal Ratnayake said: “The JVP continues to oppose the new Inland Revenue Bill, which provides for taxing artistes as well as their creations. The artistes and literature, too, will be taxed. We know that some artistes conduct private tuition classes to raise funds for their dramas. But, the government is planning to tax them. The new tax laws will make it compulsory for artistes who earn more than 50,000 rupees a month to pay taxes.”

Veteran actress Deepani Silva: “We demand to know from the government what right it has to tax artistes. The government has done nothing to promote art. It has no moral right to tax the poor artistes. Today, the film industry is in dire straits. Stage dramas are facing an unprecedented crisis. Hardly any new literary work comes out. All these ills are because the government does not promote them.

Author Keerthi Welisarage: “We worked hard to bring this government to power. We thought that there would be a renaissance of arts under this government. But, now we understand that we have been taken for a ride. The best example is brining in new laws to tax artists and arts.

Veteran stage and teledrama actor Chandrasoma Binduhewa: “Current prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s uncle former President JR Jayewardene, too, did not promote art and culture. JR said culture was not something edible and people and, therefor, it was of no use. The aims of these taxes show that JR’s nephew is completing the work commenced by his uncle to convert this land into a cultural dessert.

Cartoonist Winnie Hettigoda also said all artistes had to oppose the new tax laws which would deal a paralysing blow to the field of art and culture.

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