INS meets Sitharaman to seek relief for newspaper industry ahead of Union Budget 2025

During the meeting on June 26, 2024, Rakesh Sharma, the President of the Indian Newspaper Society, urged the Finance Minister to scrap the 5% customs duty on newsprint and withdraw GST on e-newspapers

Khushi Keswani
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New Delhi: As the Union Finance Ministry prepares to present the full Union Budget for the fiscal year 2025 in July, Indian Newspaper Society President Rakesh Sharma met with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to seek essential concessions aimed at bolstering the newspaper industry in India. 

"I had gone out to seek certain concessions for the industry," Sharma stated, highlighting the critical issue of the 5% customs duty on newsprint, which has been a significant financial burden on the sector.

This duty, if withdrawn, could potentially alleviate some of the financial strain faced by newspapers, he said.

In 2020, the government reduced the customs duty on newsprint uncoated paper (glazed) and light-weight coated paper used to print newspapers and magazines from 10% (proposed in Financial Bill 2019) to 5%. 

It's not just the customs duty that burdens the print industry; the cost and availability of newsprint have been rising due to global geopolitical uncertainties, logistical complexities, and the depreciation of the Indian rupee. 

Another issue he discussed with the Finance Minister was the withdrawal of GST on e-newspapers. Currently, online newspapers are subject to an 18% GST.

The newspaper industry, like many others, has grappled with economic challenges exacerbated by the global pandemic. 

In the interim budget for 2024–25 presented in February 2024, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman allocated Rs 4,342.55 crore to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, a slight decrease from the revised estimates of Rs 4,449.79 crore in the previous fiscal year. 

According to the budget document, a large portion of the allocation—Rs 2,959.94 crore—was designated for broadcasting, while Rs 1,088.16 crore was earmarked for information and publicity, which is marginally higher than the revised estimates of the previous fiscal year.