Pulse Opinion FG's plan to grant movie producers tax break isn't achievable, yet

This decision has 'support Nollywood' written all over it, but there are questions. Who exactly are the filmmakers expected to get this tax break?

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Lai Mohammed play

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

(Punch)
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On August 3, the Minister of Information Lai Mohammed announced that the Federal Government has granted tax break to movie producers and others in the creative industry.

This tax break, which is aimed at transforming the industry to a booming one will be granted to companies making investments in qualifying industries and products as tax holiday from the payment of corporate income tax and withholding tax on dividend from pioneer profits for an initial period of three years, extendable for one or two additional years.

What this simply means is that movie producers will now legally be able to avoid paying taxes for an initial period of three years, which could be extended in the long run.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, speaking at an African International Film Festival in Lagos (NAN photo) play

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, speaking at an African International Film Festival in Lagos (NAN photo)

 

This is expected to accelerate investments in the industry and also spur the establishment of world class studios in Nigeria for the production of movies.

On the surface, this friendly tax deal sounds like the Federal Government trying to lure film and TV productions to Nigeria.

Only weeks ago, Lai Mohammed threatened to investigate the production of Big Brother Nigeria in South Africa and ban the production of music videos and movies abroad. He later denied saying the latter.

The Wedding Party play

The Wedding Party

 

This decision has 'support Nollywood' written all over it, but there are questions. Who exactly are the filmmakers expected to get this tax break? How many filmmakers before now even pay their taxes?

Does Nollywood have a generally accepted structure that can oversee this? Is this the industry's most urgent problem that the Federal Government can help with? In this era of digital revolution, aren't we all in the creative industry?

Emeka Ike attacks Ibinabo Fiberesima play

Emeka Ike attacks Ibinabo Fiberesima

(Nigeria Films)

 

Unlike Hollywood, there are no studios in Nollywood. What we have are independent filmmakers who work hard to produce and market their movies themselves.

Also, the Actors Guild of Nigeria and other guilds in the country are not generally accepted. Most of the new generation actors don't see the need for them.

During one of the sessions at the fifth edition of the Nigerian Entertainment Conference, Toyin Aimakhu referred to Adesua Etomi as 'one of the problems of the movie industry' for not being a part of any guild.

Seun Okinbaloye, Patrick Doyle, Toyin Aimakhu-Abraham, Adekunle Ayeni, Adesua Etomi and Dr. Shola Fosudo speaking on a panel at NEC Live conference 5th edition held at Landmark event centre, Victoria Island. play

Seun Okinbaloye, Patrick Doyle, Toyin Aimakhu-Abraham, Adekunle Ayeni, Adesua Etomi and Dr. Shola Fosudo speaking on a panel at NEC Live conference 5th edition held at Landmark event centre, Victoria Island.

(Pulse.ng)

Adesua on the other hand said she wasn't part of any because she had not seen what these organizations have done for the industry.

For years, the AGN and its likes became a political affair; almost like being a top official came with some financial reward.

These guilds are not taken seriously; not by the actors and not by the public.

At the end of the day, If there's no structure to regulate who receives the tax breaks, then it isn't feasible.

play Nollywood actors campaigning for Goodluck Jonathan in 2015

While the government tries to figure out the movie producers that can legally evade tax, they could work on establishing a film school in Nigeria - there are other states aside Kano that would make a good location for that.

They could also reduce import stamp duty on film equipments. There's also piracy which has been destroying filmmakers hard work in the industry.

play Funke Akindele harassed by area boys

 

Also, several filmmakers including Funke Akindele, Omoni Oboli and Dakore Egbuson have called on the government to look into the attacks they face from Area Boys during shoot.

There's a lot that can be done to 'better accelerate investment in the Nigerian film industry.'

But, until then, we are all in the creative industry and deserve a tax break too.

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