The film and entertainment industry plays a crucial role in projecting country’s narrative as well as its cultural identity and diversity. In our country, the film sector has long struggled to thrive due to various challenges, hindering its growth and potential. However, the way Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb has played a lead role in revitalising and promoting country’s film cinematic landscape is very encouraging and needs to be recognised.
It was during previous tenure of the PML-N that Information Minister came up with the first ever film policy in 2017 after consultations with relevant stakeholders. This policy recognising film as an industry aimed to create an enabling environment for entertainment industry, fostering growth and development. Later, in 2018, the policy became an integral part of national budget. The previous government unfortunately put it in abeyance but soon after assuming the charge of Information Ministry last year, Marriyum Aurangzeb revived the film policy, offering multiple incentives to the industry as was promised to them. Presently, there is zero tax on the film industry. On the import of equipment related to filmmaking, cinema and production, there is no tax. Cinemas are also enjoying a 10-year tax exemption and corporate sector can benefit from it and invest in cinema houses. In addition, a dedicated film division was established last year to streamline efforts and provide focused attention to industry’s needs and aspirations. Going a step further, because of the efforts of Marriyum Aurangzeb, Rs 02b have been allocated in current year’s budget for the Film Finance Fund and Rs 01b for artists’ health insurance. This financial support is expected to encourage creativity and exploration of diverse themes besides promoting the use of latest technology in film production. By embracing modern filmmaking techniques, Pakistan can compete on international level, attracting audiences both at home and abroad. To further strengthen entire film ecosystem, it is imperative to ensure an uninterrupted implementation of the film policy, no matter which party forms the next government. Doing so will not only help nurture a pool of home-grown talent and encourage the creation of high quality and original content but also bolster Pakistan’s soft power image, showcasing its rich cultural heritage and creativity to the whole world.