Paper importers and leaders of the printing and packaging sectors have urged the government to reduce the import duty on paper.
They made the call at the first meeting of the standing committee on paper, paper products, printing and packaging organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) on Saturday.
The businessmen urged for a reduction of the import duty to three to five per cent from the existing 47 per cent, said a press release.
At the same time, they also urged the government to withdraw the import duty from paper for books of the National Curriculum and Textbook Board.
The speakers at the meeting said only eleven types of paper were produced locally.
Other types come from abroad with 47 per cent duty. On the other hand, despite being self-sufficient in paper production, India imposes 18 per cent, Indonesia 19 per cent and China 17 per cent import duties on paper.
Carton makers alleged that there was no regulation in increasing the prices of paper and other raw materials. It makes them face losses and shuts down their businesses.
Besides, five per cent advance income tax on raw materials and seven per cent TDS has to be paid on finished goods, which was illogical, they said.
Speaking as the chief guest, Md Amin Helaly, FBCCI vice president, mentioned that the global outsourcing market for printing and packaging products was about $2 trillion. Bangladeshi entrepreneurs should try to enter this market, he suggested.
"The printing and packaging cost occupies almost 15 per cent of the total production cost of a product. Therefore, the printing and packaging sectors' deemed exports stand at $6 Billion per year," he said.
Despite contributing to the economy, this sector could not grab the proper attention of the government's policymakers, he added.
He emphasised combined policy-making with the inclusion of all stakeholders in this sector.
Md Shafiqul Islam Vorosha, director in charge of the standing committee, said a coordinated effort was much needed to further develop the paper and paper-based products industry.
Md Esharot Hossain, chairman of the standing committee, said, the printing sector would contribute to the country's economy like the garment sector if the government provided proper policy support.