After firing a letter to the Union Revenue Secretary asking for the removal of 12% goods and services tax (GST) on lightweight coated paper (LWC), magazine publishers are gearing up for a long-drawn struggle with the government. Though industry sources indicated that a meeting is being sought with Hasmukh Adhia later this week, the publishers are aware of the fact that the Revenue Secretary alone will not be able to reverse the decision. Being pragmatic, magazine representatives don’t expect relief in less than two-three months’ time during which they would have to bear the increased taxation burden.
Given the scenario, publishers will seek the retrospective removal of the tax since it came into effect on 1 July. Industry sources agreed that the government will not respond easily because the policy formulation has already happened. However, the magazines are pinning their hopes on Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Venkaiah Naidu and I&B secretary NK Sinha. They expect the MIB to recommend their case to the GST council for further consideration.
Kerala Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac and his West Bengal counterpart Amit Mitra are being zeroed in as individuals who could push the case of publishers before the GST council because the final decision rests with that body. In a letter addressed to the Revenue Secretary on 11 July, the Association of Indian Magazines (AIM) had come down heavily on the government’s decision to levy a higher tax rate on LWC paper. The association demanded that magazines be treated at par with newspapers as per the provisions of the Press and Registration of Books Act, 1867. “We request you to please withdraw the GST levied on LWC paper up to 70 gsm completely or at least bring it to 5% and ensure parity with newspapers,” said the letter.