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KARACHI: Pakistan Association of Printing and Graphics Art Industry (PAPGAI) Wednesday appealed to the prime minister, finance & commerce ministers to save the industry which is one of the biggest employer entities after textile by rationalizing the duty on paper.

Pakistan has the highest tax rate on paper in the world and one of the lowest literacy rate, the association noted and pointed out that printed material is imported tax-free and the raw material for printing is highly taxed.

It stated that the sector is contributing in multiple ways, ie, employment creation & value addition to the economy.

“Taxing raw material and allowing duty free import of finished goods.” How can the local industry compete in a situation like this? Our economic crisis have emanated from these structural distortions, association held the view.

PAPGAI believes this anomaly has incentivised businesses to get their material printed outside Pakistan, especially since last few years as Internet has enabled publishers to get their pre-press work (page making) and format including page designing done with no loss of time. Major publishers get their books prescribed in Pakistan’s school and colleges, printed in Malaysia and China, it added.

Association stated that internationally printing has a $ 900 billion market and major share of its export component is with Singapore, Malaysia, China and United Arab Emirates. “We are far cheaper than those countries in every aspect but heavy duties and taxes on raw material are the major factor, which doesn’t allow us to enter the $ 900 billion market, it stated.

Association proposed that maximum duty on paper should be 10% and duty on paper not produced in Pakistan should be 5%. Alternatively, bring effective import duty/tax rate for all three – (1) raw material for local paper mills (pulp), (2) raw material for local printing industry (paper) and (3) import of printed material – at par. “This would to some extent provide an even playing field for all the stakeholders,” PAPGAI noted.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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