KARACHI: Due to a lack of interest and frivolous attitude of the government, the prices of paper have been more than doubled across the country.
Paper is not available in the market and there is a strong possibility that the Sindh Textbook Board will not be able to print textbooks on time and by the time these books are published, their price will have increased by more than 40pc. Purchasing books and copies will become a burden for the common man.
Aziz Khalid, Chairman of the Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association, said that the price of paper continued to rise sharply. Paper was being sold at high rates in the market. The government should stop paper mills from increasing the prices of paper and bring them back. He said that at present, there was no paper available for publication of books of the Sindh Text Book Board. Suleman Java, general secretary of the Urdu Bazaar Welfare Association, said textbooks and copies had become very expensive. Parents were worried and had started buying old books instead of new ones. Private publishers were increasing the prices of books every month. Copies and journals were being sold at double prices because paper had become more expensive and Urdu Bazaar shopkeepers were forced to sell books at exorbitant prices.
Farooq, a shopkeeper who sells old books in Urdu Bazaar, said the Oxford University Press had increased the price of books for the third time this year. He said the price of paper was Rs100 per kg, which had now increased to Rs250 per kg. Indonesian paper was at Rs130 per kg, which went up to Rs300 per kg. Due to the high cost of paper, the prices of copies were increasing every week.
Asghar Zaidi, owner of the Welcome Book Port, said: “Earlier, we used to publish 500 books of literature or poetry, then we reduced their number to 300. But now due to the high cost of paper, we have reduced their number to 100. If this situation continues, we will stop publishing books.” He said 86-gram paper rim, which was earlier available for Rs1,500, was now being sold at Rs4,000 and 75-gram foreign paper rim that used to be available at Rs4,000 had now gone up to Rs8,000.
Sindh Education Minister Sardar Shah said paper had become very expensive. “I had written a letter to the PTI government to abolish all taxes to make paper cheaper, but they did not do so. Now I will again write to this coalition government to abolish taxes to make books cheaper. We haven't even increased our budget, so we've printed less textbooks and that's why we have published books based on real enrolment, whereas earlier books were published on fake enrolment.”
The Oxford University Press spokesperson said they were committed to making high quality textbooks and educational materials accessible to students across Pakistan. “We produce books for all age groups and all segments of society and strive to keep our prices affordable. Unfortunately, a combination of rising global paper prices, unprecedented inflation and currency devaluation in Pakistan meant that we have to raise prices for certain books for the second time in this calendar year. This price increase is effective from June 15 and all our books are currently available at our bookshops at the old prices. From mid-June, we are passing on the lowest possible increase to customers (an average of 10pc) and will be absorbing most of the impact of the cost increase. We will continue to do all that we can to keep our prices stable by managing our costs during this period of macroeconomic uncertainty so that all our products remain affordable.”