NOAB wants cut in newsprint import duty, corporate tax

Staff Correspondent

25 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

The Newspaper Owners' Association of Bangladesh (NOAB) has sought a reduction in import duty and value added tax (VAT) on newsprint import as well as corporate tax for the sake of the newspaper industry’s survival.

The NOAB leaders placed the proposal at a virtual pre-budget discussion organised by the National Board of Revenue (NBR) at its office in the city on Wednesday.

NBR Chairman Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, Member (Customs policy) Syed Golam Kibria and Member (Income tax policy) Alamgir Hossain were present at the discussion.

NOAB President AK Azad and Daily Star Editor and Publisher Mahfuz Anam were present at the programme.

The NOAB leaders said they have to pay in total 30 per cent tax in different forms, including VAT and advance income tax (AIT), which is a burden for the industry.

Mentioning that they have to pay 5 per cent import duty on newsprint, 15 per cent VAT, 5 per cent AIT and 5 per cent other tax, they called for reducing the tax and duty.

Newspapers have to pay 35 per cent corporate tax, the NOAB leaders said proposing that it be fixed at 12-15 percent.

They also said the newspaper industry has badly been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the sector needs to have tax benefits like other sectors.

Speaking at the discussion, the NBR chairman said the apex authority for tax administration not only works for revenue collection but also for safeguarding local industries.

If it is found that the country’s newspaper industry fully depends on imported paper, they can get budgetary facilities, he said.

The Association of Television Channel Owners (ATCO) also took part in the virtual pre-budget discussion.

ATCO Senior Vice-president Mozammel Babu placed the budget proposal of the organisation.

In the proposal, it was mentioned that the government is deprived of around Tk 25.20 billion in revenue every year from 4 crore subscribers of television channels.

Mozammel Babu said although the government is asking cable operators to introduce digital distribution, they have not yet found any log-in technology solution for introducing the digital distribution.

As a result, local and foreign channels are not able to realise subscription fees in exchange for their contents. At the same time, the government is losing around Tk 25.20 billion from the subscribers annually, he said.

Section 19 (13) of the Cable TV Operations Act 2006 and Section 9 (13) of the Cable TV Operation Rules 2010 have made it mandatory for foreign channels to broadcast without advertisement in case of downlinking and distribution in Bangladesh.

The Ministry of Information has also given necessary instructions to the distributors of foreign channels in this regard.

But due to technical limitations, they are still unable to implement the directive. Taking the opportunity, foreign channels are taking huge amount of money abroad through advertisements of multinational companies and even local companies.

“This is damaging the domestic television channels. And the government is also being deprived of huge revenues,” said Mozammel Babu.