KARACHI: Printing of textbooks appears impossible due to the massive increase of up to 200 per cent in paper prices and profiteering by local paper mills, Abid Nisar, a former vice chairman of the All Pakistan Paper Merchants Associa­tion, said on Monday.

“A severe paper crisis has erupted across the country due to high taxes on imported paper, significant devaluation of the rupee, the soaring dollar, and the profiteering of local paper mills. As a result, the price of paper is skyrocketing. Text­books would not be available to children, and even if they were, they would be beyond the purchasing power of the people due to the expense,” he feared.

Importers play an important role in meeting the production demand of the printing industry. The books imp­o­rted from abroad are duty free, which are being printed and imported from other countries, including Mala­ysia, Singapore, Indon­esia, etc. All kinds of printed materials are also duty free due to the fact that the printing industry is on the verge of collapse, he said in a statement.

The printing industry employs a large number of people. He lamented that it is a tragedy that there is no duty on the import of printed books and printed materials from abroad.

The government has impo­s­ed a 70pc duty on imported paper, which is used to print books and other printed materials. Imported paper is subject to a 20pc import duty, followed by a 17.5pc sales tax, a 20pc customs duty, a 29pc anti-dumping duty, and a 6pc additional duty, according to the federal budget for 2022-23.

Published in Dawn, June 28th, 2022

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