Calling the Budget a mere arrangement of decorative words, DMK chief MK Stalin drew attention to the 10 per cent customs duty on newsprint.

Customs duty for newsprint ploy to dismantle print media says MK StalinFile Image/PTI
news Budget 2019 Saturday, July 06, 2019 - 08:10

Leader of the Opposition in Tamil Nadu and DMK chief MK Stalin has slammed the Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, calling it ‘an arrangement of decorative words.’ In particular, Stalin drew attention to the 10 per cent hike in customs duty on newsprint, stating that it was done with the intention to weaken democracy. On Friday, the government announced a 10 per cent customs duty on newsprint and 5 per cent import duty on printed books. In addition to this, imported newsprint, the uncoated paper used for printing of newspapers and lightweight coated paper used for magazines would now attract 10 per cent customs duty, according to one report in The Hindu. Previously, there was no import duty on newsprint.

“The imposition of customs duty of ten per cent on the import of the newsprint, required for printing newspapers is a ploy to dismantle print media once and for all and disrupt the spread of news and opinion. The tax burden has been mounted to suppress and weaken one of the pillars of democracy,” Stalin said in a statement on Friday.

According to one report in The Print, the customs duty would affect the Indian newspaper industry, which had already been struggling with high newsprint prices after China decided to stop production of newsprint. In January last year, China banned the low-quality paper on which newspapers are printed in an aggressive push to combat pollution in the country.

The BJP government did not increase the income tax exemption limit for the middle class but gave tax benefits to the corporates, said Stalin.

He also termed the Union Budget a mere arrangement of 'decorative words' and 'announcements' which did not respect the federal structure of the nation. The Budget announced a hike in excise duty and cess on petrol and diesel, respectively, by Re 1 per litre. Slamming this, Stalin said that the increase in petrol and diesel prices will result in a rise in the cost of essential items and transport costs for the common man.

Stalin said the announcement to raise Rs 50 lakh crore for the Indian Railways by private participation was like handing over the common man's transport system to rich people.

The DMK leader said the policy announcement of the Central government reducing its stakes in public sector undertakings (PSUs) to under 51 per cent showed that the BJP government will close down the PSUs.

According to Stalin, the Budget has not allocated any amount for linking the rivers Cauvery and Godavari or for any river linking project.

(With IANS inputs)