‘Foreign Gyaan is also Needed’: Budget move to tax imported books Ignites Debate

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Sitharaman, in the budget, hiked tax on petrol and diesel, raised import duty on gold, levied additional surcharge on super rich and brought a tax on high value cash withdrawals as she sought to spur growth with reduction in corporate tax and sops to housing sector, startups and electric vehicles.

New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her maiden budget speech on Friday announced 5% custom duty on imported books. The move has evoked a mixed response from people.

Author Shobhaa De questioned the move and said, “Why a tax on foreign books? Madam, the rest of your Budget speech was just fine. Wish you had spared books! Local gyaan is great. But foreign gyaan is also needed,” De tweeted.

Spokesman of the Samajwadi Party, Gansham Tiwari slammed the government for imposing custom duty on books and not imported arms. “No customs duty on arms! But, now an increase in customs duty on Books! A bunch of inexplicable ideas in the budget,” Tewari tweeted.

Ashok Gupta, publisher and general secretary of Association of Indian Publishers, welcomed the move and said it would encourage the Indian writers. “This is a very good step. It is going to encourage Indian literary works and authors,” Gupta said. He said that without the custom duty, foreign authors would sell their unsold stock in India.

“Without the custom duty on imported books, the international publishers would just dump their books in India and other countries as it would help them escape the cost of warehousing,” he said.

Gupta said the western publishers sold the books in India knowing that there is English-speaking population here.

“While the decision to levy custom duty on the import of books is going to affect the books industry, it is too soon to comment on the impact,” said Nandan Jha, Senior Vice President Products and Sales of the Penguin Random House.

“We are evaluating the weight of this decision and how best to price our books going ahead,” Jha added.

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