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INS urges Govt to roll back 10% duty on newsprint

Faced with declining revenues, the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has urged the Government to withdraw the 10 per cent customs duty imposed on newsprint, which was an “unbearable burden”. 

As is known, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her Budget 2019 proposals, had announced that customs duty of 10 per cent would be levied on newsprint – uncoated and lightly coated paper. 

The INS Executive Committee held an emergency meeting last week, where it sought the Government’s “urgent intervention” to come to the rescue of the Indian print industry. 

INS, in a statement issued, alleged that the Indian newsprint manufacturers had misrepresented to the Government about their ability to meet the print industry’s demand for newsprint. In reality, compared to the print industry’s newsprint consumption of 2.5 million tonnes, the domestic industry was able to supply only around 1million tonnes of newsprint, INS further stated. The remainder had to be met with imports. 

INS also raised concerns about the quality of newsprint manufactured by the domestic companies, which tore more easily on the modern printing presses, thus leading to more wastage. 

Earlier, the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) had called the levy of 10 per cent customs duty on newsprint “a double whammy” for print media. 

India Ratings and Research (Fitch Group), had stated that the import duty on newsprint was likely to have an adverse impact on the profitability of print media companies, particularly the English dailies, since they imported 70-80 per cent of the newsprint requirement. 

On the other hand, India Ratings and Research believed that the 10 per cent import duty on the newsprint would lead to an improvement in the realisations and volumes of domestic newsprint producers. It maintained, “An increase in import prices would create a favourable environment for domestic players to hike their prices by 4-6 per cent while still remaining competitive.”

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