Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Customs duty makes books expensive

After the government introduced a new tax provision for imported books, it has become expensive hitting not only the students but also a reading culture.
The budget – brought by the finance minister Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada – for the next fiscal year has mandated a 10 per cent customs duty on all imported books. Earlier, there was never a tax on the imported books, especially schoolbooks – according to UNESCO’s Florence agreement, which prohibits customs duties on the import of books and publications that can be classified as educational, scientific and cultural – as Nepal is also one of the signatory of the agreement. The government’s new move, however, contradicts the UNESCO’s Florence agreement, affecting thousands of students.
Though the tax will be applicable to the books published only in foreign countries, most of the books used in the schools and colleges are imported. According to director of the Department of Customs Shishir Ghimire thefe should be tax on finished goods – imported books – as there is a tax on raw materials like papers for publishing in Nepal.
Due to no tax on imported books, most of the domestic publishers lately have started printing the books in India and bring it back to the market, which according to some domestic publishers, is hitting the domestic publishing business very hard.
The government wants to promote the publishing industry in Nepal, according to Ghimire, who, like some domestic publishers, think that the printing Nepali books in India, though a recent trend, has hit the domestic publishers. Currently, a majority of Nepali publication houses print their books in India, as it is cheaper than to print in Nepal, according to them.
But those publishers – who are opposing the government decision – are afraid that the customs duty will hit the reading culture among young people. “A reading culture was finally emerging in Nepal, but the added customs will again discourage them,” a publisher said, adding that there are very few libraries that could encourage reading culture.
The National Booksellers' and Publishers' Association of Nepal (NBPAN) said that the government move will encourage piracy. Protesting the government move of customs duty on all types of books, including schoolbooks, the association has decided to halt imports of books for the time being. The association also blamed the government for not consulting them before bringing the new law. “We found out only when transportation companies informed publishers about the new price in the invoices for future shipments,” the association added.

1 comment:

lisa said...

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