Paper industry seeks subsidy


Printing industry stakeholders and paper importers have decried the overblown dollar rate as they face a severe business crisis due to a massive hike in paper prices.

All Pakistan Paper Merchants Association former vice chairman Abid Nisar said that the value of the dollar had reached an alarming level and the crisis had intensified due to profiteering by the local paper mills.

Prices of books and copies have skyrocketed owing to the sharp rise in paper prices. As a result, “a majority of students will be deprived of textbooks and copies at the advent of new academic year and the dream of making the nation educated will not be fulfilled,” Nisar remarked.

He appealed to the government to give subsidy to the paper and printing industry to save it from further loss and destruction.

Nisar pointed out that textbooks and copies had become so expensive that they were beyond the reach of the common man.

“The government should think about it and subsidise the paper and printing industry so that students can get textbooks and copies at reasonable prices,” he said.

Furthermore, the cost of doing business is already on the rise on the back of high electricity tariffs, continuous increase in exchange rate, and now political instability, which is also causing difficulties for the business community.

He alerted the government to the falling exports and regretted that the mainstream politicians did not care much about the country’s economy.

“Karachi is Pakistan’s economic hub, the centre of business and industrial activities, but unfortunately the city has been neglected.”

Packages for Karachi were mere announcements as funds were not released, Nisar regretted and urged the government to take serious measures to save the trade and industry from being destroyed so that the economy can be brought out of crisis.

Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) Chairman Zulfikar Thaver pointed out that now dealings and businesses were computerised/ digitised, and corporate circles, even small and medium enterprises (SMEs), avoided using paper and printing.

He held the packaging and printing industry responsible for stagnant exports as they were not doing attractive packaging and urged the government to reduce import duties on the packaging material.

“Goods from around the world are gaining space in the global market due to attractive packaging and printing, but we are lagging behind,” he pointed out.

However, “once the exchange rate stabilises, we will raise our voice in support. We invite big investors to set up import substitution industries,” he said and asked the government to frame an industrial policy for the paper and printing industry along with chemicals and petroleum products.­­

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2022.

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