India’s newsprint imports fell by more than 55 percent over the last five years, union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur informed the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
From 13,84,056 kg in financial year 2017-18, imports have slid to 5,97,766 in 2021-22, the minister stated in a written response to an unstarred question by YSRCP chief whip Margani Bharat.
The opposition MP had also sought details of domestic production of newsprint and local demand from the newspaper industry, but the minister said they don’t maintain such data. He cited the import figures from the commerce ministry.
The sharpest decline came in the post-pandemic years. From 12,96,354 kg in 2019-20, the imports shrunk to 6,48,620 in 2020-21 and down to 5,97,766 in 2021-22.
Thakur also stated that the customs duty on newsprint import was reduced to 5% from 10% following demands from industry representatives in 2020.
Meanwhile, in another unstarred question, Trinamool Congress MP Mimi Chakraborty asked if allocation of advertisements to newspapers had been cut by over 60 percent in the last two fiscals and if this also affected trade charges. She also asked if the revenue receipt had dipped to Rs 1,685.02 crore from Rs 1,788.52 crore in 2020-21.
Thakur replied that the revenue receipts are related to charges paid by “television channels, DTH operators, private FM channels which have witnessed a slowdown in the last two years due to Covid-19 and other factors”.
In April, BJP MP Sushil Kumar Modi had the central government to step in and revive the newspaper sector by scrapping import duty on newsprint, and also introduce a scheme to incentivise domestic production.
Newslaundryearlier how India’s newspaper industry was staring at a crisis due to a shortage of newsprint, triggered by global conditions and lack of adequate domestic manufacturing.