Fifty stage a melodic protest against tax on culture events

About 50 people, including prominent artists and musicians, protested by the parliament building in Rīga against the plan to levy a 21% value-added tax (VAT) on tickets to culture events starting with 2016, BNS reported Tuesday.

The protesters included popular Latvian musicians and producers like Kaspars Bindemanis, Musiqq, Liene Somase, Guntars Racs, Varis Vetra, Intars Busulis and others.

Several lawmakers, including parliament budget committee head Karlis Sadurskis, talked with the protesters. They explained that imposing VAT on culture events will impact the number of people attending these events as tickets will become more expensive.

Sadurskis said that the parliament committee plans to revise the plan to levy a VAT on culture events only on Thursday, and so far no particular decisions have been made. The event, organized by the Latvian Association of Event Producers, passed peacefully with protesters often joining in song. 

Janis Basevics, a spokesman for the organizers of the protest, said that over 300 representatives of the Latvian creative and intellectual circles have sent an open letter to the Latvian top officials, including President Raimonds Vejonis, ministers and lawmakers, warning them of the consequences of such an ill-considered decision.

The letter says that charging a 21 percent VAT on tickets to cultural and entertainment events would plunge the cultural life in the country into stagnation.

However, being aware of the situation in the country, the cultural workers propose a solution – to apply to the tickets to cultural and entertainment events a reduced 12 percent VAT rate, which is the effective VAT rate for books and tourism services.

In addition, an online petition on the Manabalss public initiative website has been opened in support of the reduced VAT rate for event tickets.

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