Paper crisis hits Pakistan, publishers say there are no books for new academic term

Millions of students in Pakistan may be without books for the new academic term starting in August 2022 as the paper industry association has warned of an impending severe paper shortage.

The current crisis stems from the rising prices of locally produced paper. The association blamed the government for failing to control the domestic price log, local media report.

During a joint press conference in the capital Islamabad, the All Pakistan Paper Merchant Association, the Pakistan Association of Printing Graphic Art Industry (PAPGAI) and other organizations associated with the paper industry, together with the leading economist of the country, Dr Qaiser Bengali, have warned that booksellers across the country will not be able to provide textbooks to millions of students this year unless the price of paper is stabilised.

At present, the price of local paper has increased by more than 200% and its quality is also lower than that of foreign-made paper, they said, reports The News International newspaper.

They said the pricing formula had yet to be decided between the government and private publishers and no steps had been taken to provide paper at a fixed price to publishers.

“Since January, an increase of Rs 100 per kilogram of local paper has been observed,” said Pakistan Publishers and Booksellers Association Chairman Aziz Khalid.

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He added that the current situation was pushing the printing and packaging industries towards collapse.

Aziz clarified that publishers cannot use imported paper in textbooks due to high taxes. As a result, local publishers stopped buying textbook paper.

Earlier this month, textbook publishers in Lahore announced they were shutting down due to soaring paper prices.

(With agency contributions)