KARACHI: Paper merchants and graphic printers are faced with a severe shortage of paper, while the local producers have increased the prices by over 200 percent pushing the printing and packaging industry towards collapse.
Speaking at a press conference at Karachi Press Club, Chairman Pakistan Association of Printing Graphic Art Industry, Aziz Khalid said there was a severe shortage of paper in the country, and local paper mills were fixing the rates at their will.
“Local mills produce low-quality paper and are unable to meet the demand.”
He said due to the scarcity of paper, printers couldn’t print the school syllabus so far, which was impacting the students of Sindh and Punjab Text Book Boards.
Criticizing the policies of the government as negative, Khalid claimed over 18,000 units involved in the printing and packaging supply chain were suffering due to higher taxes on imported paper.
“We have approached the Ministry of Finance, Commerce Division, and Federal Board of Revenue FBR apprising them of the problems of the paper and printing industry, but there is no redressal”.
Speaking on the occasion, former Chairman of All Pakistan Paper Merchants Association, Muhammad Saleem Bikyia said the government allows them to import paper, and the government revenue would be doubled.
“The former government imposed multiple taxes on educational paper imports, while the locally produced paper is very low quality as well as unable to meet demand.”
It may be mentioned here that printing and packaging is the second largest value-added industry after textiles.
High prices & inferior quality are the major factors to confine us to entering US$:1000 billion export markets of books/leaflets/ packaging materials etc., which are mainly consumed by Singapore, Malaysia, China, India, and UAE, said Bikyia.
Federal Minister of Finance & Revenue unfairly imposed 10% Regulatory Duty (RD) on the uncoated woodfree paper (HS Code 4802) in the year budget 2021-22 despite the fact that 11% to 39% Anti-Dumping Duty already exists in said item. This is a double jeopardy tax. Lawfully, Regulatory Duty (RD) cannot be enforced when Anti-Dumping duty already exists.
Saleem Bikyia said that there is no duty on the basis of Raw Materials i.e. pulp (H.S Code 47), and a tiny 5% duty on finished goods i.e. printed books, and literary materials (HS Code 49); however, in semi-finished Raw Materials (H.S Code 48) i.e. paper & paperboard, there is 16% customs duty taxes, 4% Additional Customs Duty, 10% RD, & 11% to 39% Anti-Dumping Duty.
The stakeholders urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to initiate an investigation to substantiate how much 90% of domestic paper producers produce and pay sales taxes to the national exchequer compare with 10% of imported paper who pay advance 17% sales tax and 3% value-added tax at the customs stage, results of billions of rupees of corruption, pilferage, swindle, and embezzlement of the local paper.
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