Maharashtra to become AVGC hub thanks to new IT/ITES Policy

Earlier this year the Maharashtra IT and ITES Draft Policy was brought to public eye at FICCI FRAMES, and there were many provisions that were requested in a bid to promote the sunrise sector of Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) and make Maharashtra an AVGC hub. The good news is that the policy has finally been approved by the state government and is all set to roll out the well-defined plans to make the dreams of many aspirants wanting to get into this booming field come true.

The AVGC Policy envisages an environment to promote growth of indigenous digital content, education and entertainment for masses whereas the ESDM (Electronic System Design & Manufacturing) Policy proposes interest free term loans, assistance for cost of quality certification and setting up of Electronics Development Fund for the development of the ESDM sector in the state.

The policy will focus on bridging demand supply gap for stakeholders, attracting global companies, larger share of outsourcing international AVGC work, legal framework for Intellectual Property creation and protection, program to train the trainer and setting up a Centre of Excellence with state-of-the-art facilities. There is also going to be a 100 per cent waiver of 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 these statements of purpose, which will be applicable for IT and ITES units will be applicable to AVGC units as per the IT & ITES policy which will come into effect from end-June 2015.

The Education Sector Will Benefit The Most With The Policy In Place

This apart, all AVGC units will get refund of expenses incurred for compulsory marking like Conformity European (CE), China Compulsory Certificate (CCC)  to the extent of 50 per cent expenses subject to maximum of Rs 2 lakh per unit, investment promotion subsidy, anchor unit subsidy equal to 25 per cent of the fixed capital investment with a minimum investment of Rs 50 crore and creating a minimum employment for 100 people.

AVGC unit will also be exempted from the payment of entertainment tax in for the animation films produced and released in the cinema halls/multiplexes in the state. The animation films produced in the State will be given a capital subsidy equal to 50 per cent of the cost of production of the film subject to a ceiling of Rs 30 lakhs for creative art films, educational, scientific, mythological and children’s films.

The policy will also address the gap in qualified trainers through a train-the-trainer programme based on industry’s needs. India’s AVGC market share is estimated to grow to $ 1.5 billion and with the passing of this policy Maharashtra has every potential to become an AVGC hub due to a rich and diverse heritage of art and culture and strong presence of information technology and entertainment industry.

As per the IT and ITES policy, private AVGC parks will be promoted and they will be entitled for all incentives given to IT and ITES units. Further, the government will facilitate the establishment of common facilities through the promotion of AVGC centres which would be an integrated facility including production facilities, AVGC studios and space for performing arts, exhibition galleries and workplace requirement for the artist.

Moreover, the government will encourage establishment of Fine Art School,  College including  Digital Art Centre (DAC). As per the policy, fine art schools across the state will be identified as digital art centre (DAC) to implement digital art and animation curriculum in collaboration with universities. DACs will be run on PPP model with 25 per cent government funding and private (promoter’s) funding of 75 per cent of total cost subject to a cap of Rs 10 crore from the State Government.

A pool of AVGC industry professionals will be developed through collaboration among universities, the industry and agencies such as Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) and Maharashtra State Board of Technical Education (MSBTE).

There is one man who has been pushing the agenda for the AVGC fraternity over the years and was instrumental in designing and formulating this policy from the nascent stages to now being passed by the State Government, and he is none other than Ashish S Kulkarni.

In an earlier interaction Kulkarni had stated: “Maharashtra, as a state, has for long been contributing positively towards the Animation, VFX, Gaming and Comics verticals apart from also being a force in the media and entertainment field at large and this policy will only encourage more young aspirants to consider the AVGC sector as a potential and lucrative career path in the near future and take India to the global stage.”

The BJP-Shiv Sena governments have also helped to push the agenda at a larger level and with PM Modi’s recent visits to Japan, China, South Korea and Canada, among other nations, which have been contributing heavily to the AVGC industry globally, it will only help further fortify the mutual working relationships with these nations to exchange talent and look at co-productions going ahead.

These are certainly ‘acche din‘ for the Indian Animation, VFX, Gaming and Comics industry and there is no looking back with the right support and encouragement coming from both the state and central governments.