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Draft policy aims to make Maharashtra animation, gaming hub

The Maharashtra government is looking to bring the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) segment at par with the Information Technology and IT-Enabled Services sector in its draft policy for the latter. 

In a bid to promote the sunrise sector and to establish Maharashtra as an AVGC hub, the BJP-Shiv Sena government has proposed a slew of sops, including 100% exemption in stamp duty, waiver in electricity duty, property tax at par with residential rates, exemption in entry tax, Works Contract Tax at the minimum rate and VAT at floor rate. 

All of these are also applicable for IT and ITES units and are expected to take effect from April 2015. Meanwhile, the government has sought suggestions from various stakeholders.

All AVGC units will get refund of expenses incurred for compulsory benchmarking such as Conformité

Européenne (CE) and China Compulsory Certificate (CCC) to the extent of 50% expenses subject to a  maximum of Rs 2 lakh per unit, investment promotion subsidy, anchor unit subsidy equal to 25% of the fixed capital investment with a minimum investment of Rs 50 crores & creating at least 100 jobs. AVGC units will also be exempted from Entertainment Tax for animation films produced and released in the Maharashtra. Animation films produced in the state will be also be given a capital subsidy equal to 50% of the cost of production, with a ceiling of Rs 30 lakh for creative art films, educational, scientific, mythological and children’s films. 

“The policy will address the gap in qualified trainers through a train-the-trainer program based on industry’s needs,” state industries minister Subhash Desai told Business Standard. “Besides, the policy focuses on bridging the demand-supply gap for people in this sector, attracting global companies in the field, and capturing a larger share of outsourced international AVGC work. 

“The policy envisages an environment that promotes growth of indigenous digital content, education and entertainment for masses, and the setting up of a Center of Excellence with state-of-the-art facilities,” he added. 

Desai noted that India’s AVGC market share is estimated to grow to $ 1.5 billion, which is less than 2% of the global market, but that Maharashtra has the potential to become a hub due to a rich and diverse heritage of art and culture and strong presence of Information Technology and Entertainment Industry. 

As per the draft IT and ITES policy, private AVGC parks, with the same incentives as IT and ITES units, will be promoted. The government will also facilitate the establishment of AVGC centres which will be an integrated facility including production facilities, AVGC studios and space for performing arts, exhibition galleries and workspaces for artists. 

“A committee under the chairmanship of the Development Commissioner (Industries) for this will work out the infrastructural requirements, revenue and operating model (such as PPP), location, facilities for the AVGC Centre in consultation with the industry. The state undertakings Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) will take initiative in this aspect,” a senior government official said.

The government will also establish a Fine Arts College, including a Digital Art Centre (DAC). Fine arts schools across the state will be identified as DACs to implement digital art & animation curriculum in collaboration with universities. DACs will be run on PPP model with 25% government funding and private (promoter) funding of 75%. However, the government’s contribution will be capped at Rs 10 crore. 

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