Paper merchants slam price hike by local producers

Paper merchants slam price hike by local producers

KARACHI: Paper merchants and graphic printers are facing 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 on Tuesday, 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 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 the printing and packaging is the second largest value-added industry after textiles.

High prices & inferior quality are the major factors to confine us to enter US$:1000 billion export markets of books/leaflets/ packaging materials etc., which are mainly consumes by Singapore, Malaysia, China, India and UAE, said Bikyia.

Federal Minister of Finance & Revenue unfairly imposed 10 per cent Regulatory Duty (RD) in uncoated woodfree paper (HS Code 4802) in year budget 2021-22 despite of facts that 11 per cent to 39 per cent Anti-Dumping Duty already exists in said item. This is 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 basis Raw Materials i.e. pulp (H.S Code 47), and tiny 5 per cent duty on finished goods i.e. printed books, literary materials (HS Code 49); however in semi-finished Raw Material (H.S Code 48) i.e. paper & paperboard there is 16 per cent customs duty taxes, 4 per cent Additional Customs Duty, 10 per cent RD, & 11 per cent to 39 per cent Anti-Dumping Duty.

The stakeholders urged Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to initiate investigation to substantiate how much 90 per cent domestic paper producers produce and pay sales taxes to national exchequer compare with 10 per cent imported paper who pay advance 17 per cent sales tax and 3 per cent value added tax at custom stage, results of billions of rupees of corruption, pilferage, swindle and embezzlement of local paper.