Budget 2019: Govt slaps 10% custom duty on newsprint

The move comes as another roadblock for print media that is already under pressure from the growing digital business

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 6, 2019 8:20 AM

Already under pressure from the growing digital business, print media hit another roadblock with the first Budget of the new government. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a 10 per cent customs duty on newsprint in her Budget speech on Friday. There was no custom duty for the category earlier.

The government also imposed a 5 per cent custom duty on imported books. “To encourage domestic publishing and printing industry, 5 per cent custom duty is being imposed on imported books,” Sitharaman said.

It has been only a couple of months that the print media has been breathing a sigh of relief with the stabilising of newsprint prices. In the past year and a half, the newspaper industry in India faced a huge hike in the cost of production as the price of newsprint shot through the roof. The prices went up by as much as 60 per cent. However, October brought the much-awaited relief to the industry as the newsprint price started stabilising. The price now stands somewhere close to 700 USD per tonne, as compared to an all-time high of 820 USD per tonne.

However, there has been no immediate impact of this price reduction on the profitability of publishers. The impact of the reduced prices was expected to be visible only in Q2 of 2020 because most newspapers are stocked up with inventory that would last them till the end of Q1 of 2019.  But with a 10 per cent customs duty on newsprint now, it looks like price stability will have no visible impact anytime soon.

According to industry experts, the newspapers will now control their usage of the newsprint with altered pagination circulation model. 

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