Karachi - Pakistan stands out as the only country with the highest duty and taxes on paper yet the industry indirectly contributes 6-7 percent in the country’s exports.

“The basic raw material (mainly imported paper) has duties and taxes of over 60 percent,” said Chairman Pakistan Association of Printing and Graphic Arts Industry (PAPGAI) Aziz Khalid while talking to media on the second day of PrintPak Exhibition at Karachi Expo Centre on Sunday.

He added that duty and taxes on raw material of flexible printing is considerably high as well. “Tariff structuring is such that there is minimum taxation and duty on printed material in comparison to over 60 percent duty and taxes on imported raw material, paper,” said Aziz.

As a result, he added, the industry loses the opportunity of acquiring and serving the domestic publishing sector as they find much cheaper solutions from counties like China and Malaysia. “The domestic publishers sourced over 7,000 tonnes of books in 2018 which is turning out to be an alarming trend for the industry,” said Aziz. He said that PAPGAI has been very loud and clear in explaining this anomaly on every forum like National Tariff Commission (NTC), Senate and National Assembly Standing Committee, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and Ministry of Commerce.

“Still, this industry has great potential of not only providing employment opportunities but it can directly contribute to the country’s foreign exchange if prompt rationalisation of tariff and duty structuring is initiated,” said Khalid. He added that the literacy rate of Pakistan is very low where access to education is costly due to high prices of text books but this pricing can be rationalised if right government policies are adopted to reform the tariff and duty structure applicable on paper.