If import duty was cut to 5% and the bonded warehouse facility for importers was maintained, the misuse of bonded facility would come to an end and the market would remain stable
Paper importers, merchants, textbook printers and press owners under six associations on Saturday urged the government to cut the import duty from 25% to 5% in order to ensure smooth supply of papers and help keep their business afloat.
They raised the demand at a joint press conference at the Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF) auditorium in Dhaka.
“Because of the higher duty, we are gradually losing our business,” said Md Shafiqul Islam Vorosha, president of Bangladesh Paper Importers Association.
“The import duty is in place for a long time. Now it is a question of our survival. Because of the higher duty, there is misuse of paper and boards imported under the bonded warehouse facility,” Vorosha pointed out.
Leaders of the associations mentioned that the main raw materials for the country’s printing, publication and packaging industries were duplex board, art paper, art card, Swedish board, folding box board and self adhesive paper.
If import duty was cut to 5% and the bonded warehouse facility for importers was maintained, the misuse of bonded facility would come to an end and the market would remain stable, they said.
But there was very high duty on imported paper and boards, Shahid Serneabat, chairman of Printing Industries Association of Bangladesh, complained, adding that because of the 25% import duty, the total tax incidence for the products would come to 60.73%.
The organizers said they were not against the products brought under the bonded warehouse facility but they were against sale of these products in open market, which caused the government to lose Tk2,000 crore in annual revenues.
The government fixed 5% import duty on plastic raw materials two years ago in order to stop the misuse of the bonded warehouse facility — a decision that was giving more revenues for the government, said Tofayal Khan, president of Bangladesh Textbook Printing and Marketing Association.
“The same can be done in case of commercial import of paper and paper board, he suggested.
Every year, about 5 lakh tons of paper and paper boards are imported, according to the organizers.
Md Zahurul Islam, general secretary of Printing Industries Association of Bangladesh, said local paper mills should not oppose the legal import of papers and paper boards.
Fazlur Rahman Parbat, president of Bangladesh Paper Merchants' Association, and Mohammed Belal, general secretary of Chittagong Papers and Cellophane Business Group, were also present.