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LAHORE: The paper merchants and importers are hesitant to quote the rates of paper and paper products due to depreciation of the rupee as compared to the dollar.

President of All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran, Khalid Pervez while talking to the Business Recorder said there is a huge fluctuation in the rates due to the dollar-rupee parity. Khalid Pervez, who is the biggest publisher and paper merchant of Urdu Bazar Lahore, claims that since June 2022 the prices of paper witnessed an increase of 60-80 percent as a result of which it has not been possible for publishers to print new books.

The publishers have refused to print books, which has led to fears of a new crisis in the education sector.

Khalid Pervez said the stakeholders offering tenders to the Textbook Board are also worried because the publishers had won tenders at very low rate and now the prices have increased manifolds, so it is very difficult for them to fulfil their commitments. “This is the reason why we refused to publish new books,” he maintained.

He said publishers could not bear the loss of millions of rupees in any way while the government remained a silent spectator.

The executive committee member of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and paper merchant of Urdu Bazar, Khamis Saeed Butt, said that raw material and labour are two major components of publication. Pakistani publishers and printers mostly import raw materials, such as art paper, binding glue, and ink from China and Indonesia.

The publication industry is in grave danger of collapsing due to the rise in the prices of these components. The main reason behind the increase in prices is sharp fall of the rupee versus the dollar.

Khamis Butt alleged that the local paper mills were grossly involved in huge corruption of under invoicing or sales without producing sales tax invoices, domestic mills produce large sheets/rolls but issues fictitious sales tax invoices.

He also said paper merchants strongly raised concern over ‘undue’ protection to domestic paper mills, with extreme high price and poor quality saying that local paper mills have terribly failed to meet the countrywide demand of printing paper and timely supply to printing industry to print schools’ syllabus books and copies for text books board of Sindh and Punjab.

He said the negative policy of the federal government only benefits the handful domestic paper mills, but restricts the growth of large number of printing and packaging units and supplies chain in Pakistan. Printing and packaging industry in Pakistan is the second highest value added industry after textiles in terms of hugely employments and massive contributor to national exchequer.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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