Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman in her maiden budget speech on Friday had announced that the government would be imposing 10% customs duty on newsprint and 5% on printed books. The import duty was never levied on newsprint until now.
“To encourage domestic publishing and printing industry, 5% customs duty is being imposed on imported books”, said the Finance Minister while presenting the budget.
The duty would be levied on both the uncoated paper used for printing of newspapers and lightweight coated paper used for magazines. The custom duty would come in effect from Sunday onwards.
This decision is set to have an impact on the newspaper industry, which largely depends on imports. Veerendra Kumar, Rajya Sabha member and managing director of the Malayalam newspaper Mathrubhumi, voiced his concern on whether the domestic newsprint industry can cater to the requirement of the newspaper industry.
However, the Indian Newsprint Manufacturers Association have welcomed the decision. They had sought the governments help to create a level playing field. They claimed that duty-free cheap imports were making domestic mills unsustainable.
Meanwhile, DMK chief Stalin had criticised the decision. He said, “The imposition of customs duty of ten per cent on the import of the newsprint, required for printing newspapers is a ploy to dismantle print media once and for all and disrupt the spread of news and opinion. The tax burden has been mounted to suppress and weaken one of the pillars of democracy”.