Lahore: President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF) and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday demanded of the government to provide enabling environment to local paper and board industry which is on the verge of collapse. He said that on average a person in Pakistan consumes 210 grams of paper which is dismally low as compare to the developed nations where per capita consumption is 100 kg or above.
Talking to a delegation led by former president Sindh Paper Mills Association Sheikh Rehan Javed, he said that there are around 400 paper mills in country out of which some 50 have been closed due to energy crisis, unabated imports and dumping.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that if government can consider reviving local industry by curbing smuggling and enhancing duty on imports.
Presently, books and printed material has been attracting zero duties which has put survival of local industry in jeopardy.
The price of normal paper is $45 per tonne in the international market while the same is available at 80 dollars per tonne due to enhanced cost of doing business.
Moreover, he said, enabling environment can help local industry produce world class paper suitable for textbooks of other countries to earn foreign exchange for country. Discouraging imports would result in industrial expansion, job opportunities, increased taxation etc.
The problems of paper industry could be gauged from the fact that local businessmen lost two tenders of publishing textbooks for Afghanistan worth Rs23 billion which should be a wakeup call for the policymakers.