The Parliamentary Select Committee on Education has promised to make a strong case for the removal of import duties on raw materials for the local printing industry.
It is the conviction of the committee that the removal of the duties will help boost the printing industry to enable it to compete with foreign printers.
The Chairman of the committee, Kwabena Amankwah Asiamah, gave the pledge during a visit by the members of the committee to G-PAK Limited, a subsidiary of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), yesterday to apprise themselves of progress of work on the printing of textbooks for primary schools.
He was responding to an appeal by the Managing Director of the GCGL, who is also the Board Chairman of G-PAK Limited, Ato Afful, to Parliament to consider the removal of import duties on printing materials to boost the activities of local printers, since the duties resulted in increased production cost.
G-PAK Limited is a leading printing and packaging company which has been in the business for the past 49 years.
Mr Asiamah, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Fanteakwa North in the Eastern Region, said taxes on raw materials such as paper and ink increased the production cost of companies engaged in the printing of textbooks and newspaper production and so it was time the situation was critically examined to make the local printing industry competitive.
He noted that it was the first time the need for taxes to be removed from imported raw materials for the local printing industry had been raised with the committee.
Consequently, he said, the committee would include it in its report and table it before Parliament when the House reconvened for consideration.
Mr Asiamah expressed satisfaction with the work done so far by G-PAK and hoped that the company would meet the timelines for the printing of the textbooks.
Welcoming the committee members, Mr Afful said the zero tax rating on finished printed products into the country, compared to duties on imported raw materials, made it difficult for the indigenous printing industry to remain competitive and break even.
He said some time ago, the GCGL took up the issue with the Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) but the commissioner indicated that it did not fall within the mandate of the GRA and that it was Parliament that could consider the matter.
While expressing gratitude to the committee for the visit, Mr Afful was of the conviction that the conversation on taxes on imported raw materials would be taken further up for consideration.
He said when that was done, it would boost the local printing industry, generate more jobs and contribute significantly to the general economy.
The Ranking Member on the committee and MP for Akatsi North, Peter Nortsu-Kotoe, commended G-PAK for the work done so far and expressed the hope that by the beginning of the next academic year in September this year, primary school pupils would have access to the textbooks to enhance teaching and learning in schools.
The Vice-Chairman of the committee and MP for Kwesimintsim, Dr Prince Hamidu Armah, said the issue of taxation on raw materials raised was legitimate and needed to be looked at, since it made the cost of production expensive, which also had an impact on the prices of textbooks.
Earlier in a presentation, the acting General Manager of G-PAK, Kingsley Mate-Kole, had told the committee that the company had the capacity to take up any printing job.
He said G-PAK was contracted by Afram Publications and Kabkork Publications to print English and Science textbooks for pupils from primary four to six, adding that so far the company had delivered all the 272,300 textbooks it was contracted by Kabkork to print.
With regard to the Afram Publications contract, which involved 808,282 copies of textbooks, he said G-PAK had delivered 245,000 textbooks, with 172,371 ready to be picked up, adding that the company would meet the August 27,2022 deadline for the contract.
The committee members also visited the Appointed Time Printing Company, where they expressed satisfaction with the quality of books being printed for primary schools.
Appointed Time is mandated to print science textbooks for primary one to six for two local publishers, Prof. Quarm Publications and NNF Esquire Limited, with 600,000 of the books having already been completed and distributed to schools.