NBR pre-budget discussion

Paper mills seek restriction on duty-free paper imports to save local industry

Staff Correspondent

16 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Local paper mill owners have sought budgetary support to put an end to duty-free import of paper to safeguard the local paper industry.

Although the local industry is meeting the local demand and exporting products, the industry is struggling to survive due to uneven competition.

Leaders of Bangladesh Paper Mills Association (BPMA) said ignoring the local paper mills, a vested quarter is trying to import papers for textbooks without paying duties and taxes.

In this situation, BPMA has sought budgetary support for saving the local industry through discouraging duty-free import of paper. In a pre-budget discussion with the National Board of Revenue (NBR) on Sunday, the BPMA leaders also highlighted the prospect and capacity of the local paper industry.

BPMA Business Development and Export standing committee chairman Md Mustafizur Rahman, Executive Member Firoz Ahmed and BPMA secretary Nowsherul Alam were present at the pre-budget discussion with NBR chairman Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Muneem in the chair. In a written statement, BPMA said a total of 106 small and large paper mills are producing two and a half times the local demand for paper.   The industry, directly and indirectly, employs 1.5 million people and is connected to more than 300 sub-sectors. Local paper producers also export paper and paper products to around 40 countries.

It also said local entrepreneurs have already invested Tk 70,000 crore in this sector and contributes around Tk 5,000 crore to the national exchequer. Local paper manufacturers said a section of traders is trying to take the advantage of duty-free paper import under the bond facilities in the name of publishing textbooks, a move to hurt the local industry.

“If they succeed in their mission, the local paper industry will face serious trouble,” BPMA cautioned.

Md Mustafizur Rahman said many traders import paper under duty-free bond facilities and sell those to the open market. “There is a chance of misuse of the duty-free paper import facility in the name of publishing textbooks,” he said, adding that it would put local entrepreneurs into an uneven competition.

Every year, NCTB buys 80,000 tonnes of paper and 40 crore printed books through tenders. BPMA members have been providing quality paper at the right price at the right time as per the demand of NCTB for the last 20 years.  Following the facts, BPMA leaders demanded to reduce the duty on chemicals used in the paper industry. They also demanded higher duty on the import of finished paper goods.