Dhaka overturns decision to lift ban on Indian films

Dhaka: A 45-year-old ban on import of Indian films, which a Bangladesh ministry had decided to lift causing protests from the film fraternity, will now continue following a decision by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

A minister was cited by a newspaper as saying that the commerce ministry`s decision to lift the ban might add fuel to the opposition parties "possible anti-government and anti-Indian campaign".

Hasina Monday directed the commerce ministry to scrap its decision to withdraw the ban on import and screening of films from India and other South Asian countries.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the commerce ministry`s unilateral decision to lift the ban, the minister quoted Hasina as saying: "A ministry can`t take such a nationally important decision unilaterally. Only the cabinet can go for this."

The commerce ministry decided to lift the ban earlier this month apparently to revitalise the local film industry.

Hasina was informed that more than 600 movie houses across the country have closed over the past few years.

Quality local films could be displayed at those halls, said sources who attended the meeting.

"The decision of allowing import and display of South Asian films has to be cancelled," Hasina was quoted by a cabinet member as saying.

Prior to Monday`s cabinet meeting, some noted actors and actresses spoke to senior officials at the Prime Minister`s Office urging them to bring to the PM`s attention the need to scrap the decision.

The decision came in the wake of protests from Bangladeshi films directors, producers and artistes against the Import Policy Order 2009-2012, issued January 26 allowing the import of films.

Actor and director Salahuddin Lavlo said: "This decision will create an unequal competition in the country`s film industry as the budgets of Indian films are much bigger than that of ours."

"The Indian film industry is so advanced that local films will not be able to compete with them," he told a newspaper.



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