Printing a costly business in Nepal

Kathmandu, August 12:

Due to the lack of effective government policies, printing business in Nepal has become a costly affair. Printing has become costlier as the nation imports around 60 per cent of paper it needs for the printing business.

“The price of the printing paper in Nepal is 40 per cent more than it is in India as the government imposes 18 per cent import duty and 13 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) on it, apart from the packaging, freight-forwarding and insurance charges that the importers have to bear,” said Babu Raja Shakya, former president of Nepal Printers’ Association.

Similarly, taxes are also applicable while importing the paper from China. But when a Nepali publisher uses Indian presses to print the books, no duties are imposed while bringing the printed books back to Nepal.

Shakya said that printing in India was far cheaper than in the country, as India is largely self-dependent in raw materials and machineries used in printing. “Also the labour is cheap there,” he added.

Because of the price factor, many Nepali publishers have been carrying their printing jobs in India.

Hom Bhattarai, publication officer at the Sajha Prakashan, said that even the then Royal Nepal Academy, a government entity, had once printed dictionaries in India because of the cost factor.

He said books are being exported as ‘other-items’ via land, as the government was yet to establish books as export commodity.

Bhattarai recalled the incidents when they had to bribe customs officials while taking a consignment of books to their Siliguri branch office in India.

“While no duties are imposed on the import of books from India, why can’t the same happen while exporting Nepali books?” Bhattarai questioned and added: “The government should make efforts for a reciprocal deal.”

Shakya asked the government to adopt policies favourable to Nepali printing industry.

“The scarcity of text-books would not have surfaced had the government given printing assignments to private printers when the Janak Education Materials Centre Limited was busy printing ballot papers for the Constituent Assembly polls,” Shakya added.

“The government should have given the printing assignments to Nepali printers because they are capable of giving top-class printing output. Also a huge amount of money would have remained in the country,” he added.

General manager of Sajha Prakashan Ramesh Bhattarai, who is also the head of a government committee formed to draft a book policy, said the government needed to waive all sorts of taxes imposed on raw materials like ink and paper to promote Nepal’s printing industry.