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Books must remain tax free




THE ongoing clamor against taxing or imposing tariffs on imported books has snowballed into a national crusade. In the Senate, Sen. Sonny Angara, known for his pro-education initiatives, has provided a glimmer of hope that books sourced from abroad will not be taxed under House Bill 8083 or TRAIN 2.

This support comes at a time when some politicians, many of them congressmen, have remained mindless and passive to the issue. Angara was forthright in saying the committee he heads will not touch any existing law that grants incentives and tax exemptions to the book publishing industry.

Sonny’s father, the late and illustrous Sen. Edgardo Angara, authored Republic Act 8047, the Book Publish­ing Industry Development Act of 1994.

The proposals to remove in­centives from book imports, if enacted into law, will impact devastatingly on the book industry. Not only will book prices skyrocket as a result; it will also be a disincentive for people who love to read and absorb new knowledge from books and magazines pub­lished outside the country.

An overlooked fact that comes with tax exemptions is the opportunity for publishers to source cheap raw materials for books and related items for use in the local printing industry.

Sen. Angara was right in saying his father authored RA 8047 because he believed such law would play “a vital role in national development,” adding that “books are the most effective and economi­cal tools for achieving educa­tional growth.”

RA 8047 helped the pub­lishing and printing industries become vibrant, a develop­ment that positively affect authors, writers, book pub­lishers, importers, booksell­ers, printers, editors, layout designers and artists, trans­lators and literary agents, supported by people behind the book industry.

Atty. Dominador Buhain, founding chair of the National Book Development Board and industry pillar, has consis­tently taken the cudgels for the publishing sector against attempts to bring it down through tax imposts without understanding their possible consequences.

Interestingly, a survey in 2012, noted that the number of adult Filipinos who read books, had alarmingly de­clined from 90% to 80%, a significant negative develop­ment the government must promptly, seriously and ef­fectively address.

For a country that struggles to graduate from having been mired as a Third World nation, strengthening the educational system through updated and imported books, without the threat of tax and tariff imposts, is an impera­tive towards achieving stron­ger literacy.