India: Congress Urges Prime Minister to Scrap GST on Printing Paper
Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to remove GST on printing paper (newsprint) to ensure the survival of print media. “Most of the imports are from Russia and Europe, and, with the ongoing war, supply has been disrupted. It has to be noted that most of the newspapers depend on imported paper (newsprint) for quality reasons, as paper manufactured in India mostly comes from the recycling process,” Siddaramaiah said.
The cost of printing paper has doubled in two years. The increase in GST has caused a huge burden on print media houses, he said. “It is the duty of any government to ensure the survival of this pillar of democracy through necessary reforms,” the Congress leader said in a letter to PM Modi.
“The tax on printing paper for agencies registered with the Registrar of Newspapers of India (RNI) before GST was at 3%, and it was increased to 5% under the GST system. This amounts to a 68% increase in taxes on printing paper,” the Congress leader said.
“GST for unregistered agencies is 12%. As there is no mechanism to differentiate between registered and unregistered agencies at the point of purchase, the unregistered agencies are purchasing printing paper at 5% instead of 12%, creating a shortage of paper for registered agencies. This shortage has also resulted in an increase in the cost of printing paper as well,” he explained.
The drastic increase in printing prices is due to supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, labour shortage, raw material cost, shortage of shipping containers and fuel price hike, Siddaramaiah said.
“The cost of one tonne of imported printing paper was $300 (₹23,000 / AED 1095) before the Covid-19 pandemic, and it has reached about $700-800 (₹55,000-60,000 / AED 2619 – AED 2857). About 56% of paper is imported and 44% is manufactured in India,” he said.