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Taxes on books

February 19, 2019

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THIS is with reference to the several letters in these columns protesting against the customs duty and taxes on books. In 1950 a number of countries held a convention on education in Florence, Italy.

What followed was the Florence Agreement, which called for a free flow of books, publications and educational, scientific and cultural material. Pakistan was a signatory to this international agreement.

The contracting states undertook not to levy customs duty and other charges on the import/export of all educational material. Some ten years ago, our government issued orders to the Federal Board of Revenue and other concerned departments to impose customs duty and other charges on books and education material, thus violating an international agreement.

Acquiring education is a Quranic injunction. Neglecting this vital aspect is a recipe for national disaster.

Governments in developed countries allocate a significant percentage of the country’s budget towards education. In most of these countries education up to high school is not only free but compulsory. Education for the youth in these countries is considered a right and not a privilege.

I urge the government to abolish all taxes on books and taxes on educational material as decreed by the Florence agreement.

Hadi Rizvi
Karachi

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2019