Event industry awaits stimulus package as agencies report financial distress
Waiver on taxes, relaxed collateral terms on loans and a revision of statutory compliances are some of the measures that the industry wants to be addressed immediately..
In its latest move the Finance ministry has announced a slew of new measures to tackle the ongoing economic distress caused due to COVID-19 pandemic.
On 24th March, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced some measures to tackle the economic distress. It included benefits like-extension of tax deadlines, easing minimum balance norms for savings accounts, and a number of other measures. Today, the Finance Minister again announced Rs 1.7 Lakh Crore relief package to deal with the pandemic.
This relief package is primarily targeted at farmers, five crore MNREGA beneficiaries, Jan Dhan account holders, over 8 crore BPL families among other marginalised sections. It is also being reported that the government might announce another relief package for the businesses which are incurring massive losses each day.
While the announcement is a welcome move, however for the events and experiential industry, which has an addressable market size of Rs 85,086 Cr in 2019 (As per the White Paper released by BW Applause and everythingexperietial.com), and has millions of daily wage workers as part of its workforce, no relief package has been announced yet.
It must be mentioned that the Event and Entertainment Association of India (EEMA) has already requested the Government of India to provide relief to the events and entertainment sector by ensuring that all tax refunds due are made at the earliest.
We reached out to some event agency leaders to understand their reading of the latest relief package by the FM and what the events community could hope for in the coming time.
Here is what they had to say:
Sanjoy K Roy, MD Teamworkarts and President EEMA
We have already asked for immediate tax refunds to be released and loans to MSMEs provided on relaxed collateral terms. We also want the central and state government owings to the sector paid in full and restructuring of GST. As far as today’s relief package announcement is concerned, I welcome the announcement made by the FM.
Sushma Gaikwad- Director Ice Global & Wizcraft MIME
The daily wage workers in the event industry are primarily attached to our vendor and supply chain. When i reached out to a few of our vendor partners they informed me that most of their daily wage workers are migrants who have returned to their hometowns.
I am hopeful that the new package announced by the FM makes a positive difference. It is imperative that the logistics of disbursement are detailed and planned to ensure that it is expedited to benefit the daily wage community efficiently.
Pramod Lunawat, Founder & CEO, Millennium Event and Marriageuna - Intoxicating Weddings
I am deeply worried if the nation will stay its course for the next 3-4 weeks. I hope it does. I think I will wait for the FM's package to get activated on the ground. Like always, governments make announcements to grab news without really being meticulous about the process or intent of reaching the last mile. A mere Rs. 500 extra in Jan Dhan account, or Rs. 250 extra in MNREGA is really of no use other than making news.
As far as our events community is concerned, I would say reduce GST so that somehow businesses can begin soon after normalisation. And include event freelancers in some category for receiving benefits of the govt's packages.
Ankur Kalra, CEO, Vibgyor Brand Services Pvt Ltd.
Honestly while there might be some benefits to a certain strata of society, there is nothing for industry and specifically small and medium businesses as ours, we asked for and expected multiple reliefs but are still waiting for any. Hope the government acts before it's too late and entrepreneurs are forced to shut shop rendering millions jobless.
Chetan Vohra, Managing Director, Weddingline
The new package will not directly impact the event industry in any way. This package is largely for people below the poverty line. It could however be beneficial to our service providers who provide manpower for housekeeping etc, but that too is a very small percentage. We are hoping for a stimulus package for companies from which our employees and associates can directly benefit from.
Like tourism and travel , the event industry has also been badly affected. A waiver on taxes and a revision of statutory compliances will be very welcome at this point, in helping us deal with the losses and bouncing back.
Rasheed Sait, Managing Director, GPJ
I don't think that the FMs relief package will do justice to the daily wagers in the event industry. The reason is because our industry does not feature in the list of industries that actually contributes even when we are massively affected by the slow down. That said, whatever little must be done for the daily wager within all industries without bias must be done.
First there must be an overall economic stimulus package planned to revive the entire economy, not just our industry. But specifically, grants should be made available to the event industry to thrive and future risk mitigation plans must be put in place for all industries so that one can survive situations like these for a period of one entire financial year.
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