[By VICTOR NZE]
Controversy trailing the recent 5 per cent levy slammed by agency of the Lagos Government, the Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board (LSFVCB) has take a new turn following the denial of the government of involvement in the said tax.
Last month, the LSFVCB had told producers and marketers of audio and visual works operating in the state to prepare for a five per cent tax on their products and services. However, following the outcry over the new tax, the agency informed that it has now reduced the charges by 20 per cent.
Speaking during the official unveiling of a platform by the Performing Musicians Employers Association (PMAN) and Lafrique Promedia, to track and generate revenue for entertainers, the LSFVCB also issued a 30-day notice on content producers in Nigeria to duly register their works with the body.
According to Executive Secretary of the board, Mr Bamidele Balogun, violators of the registration would face severe sanctions by the board, calling for the cooperation of stakeholders to achieve the goal.
However, reacting to the rejection of the plan by content producers, the agency diffused the tension which trailed the earlier announcement, saying the initiative is not a stand-alone policy, but an all-embracing plan designed to resolve all current challenges facing the entertainment industry.
Balogun in explaining rationale for the levy, said the sector faces challenges of piracy, effective distribution, production, funding, Guilds and Associations’ discipline, adding that the initiative also encompasses mass job creation, profitable investments and accelerated development of rural areas.
“The State government, through the Board, plans to rejuvenate the industry and ensure it is duly empowered to function and regularly contribute to the creative and economic well-being of the stakeholders, the investors, the general public and the country as a whole”, Balogun asserted.
While noting that the comprehensive initiative is being perfected alongside wide consultation of the entire spectrum of the industry, the Executive Secretary called on all stakeholders to await the Board’s comprehensive new policy and not pre-judge based on the “contents registration” alone.
However, in what appears a major U-turn, the state government, Saturday, issued a statement disassociating itself with the purported five per cent levy, insisting that ‘There is no levy on Audio and Visual contents of all Physical and Digital Platforms in Lagos State.’
“The Government hereby dissociates itself from the said announcement in the media. The Executive Secretary, who was not authorised to make such an announcement, has been suspended, pending an administrative enquiry.
“The fifth pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda, the development policy of this Administration, is Entertainment and Tourism. Practitioners are partners in our effort to ensure that Lagos State remains Africa’s leader in entertainment.
“The Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu Administration is not insensitive to the fact that the industry has been badly hit by the effects of the COVID -19 pandemic and empathises with this and other sectors of the economy.
“All stakeholders in the Entertainment Industry are advised to disregard the said publication,” read a statement signed by the state Commissioner, Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso.