Print associations of Maharashtra demand Government of India control paper prices

Bombay Master Printers’ Association (BMPA), Mumbai Mudrak Sangh (MMA), Maharashtra Mudran Parishad (MMP), and Poona Press Owners Association (PPOA) hosted a press meet on 15 March 2021 at 3pm in the Press Club, Mumbai to voice the concerns of the printers and packaging converters of Maharashtra who are spearheading the fight against the continuous and unprecedented paper price hike.

17 Mar 2021 | By Noel D'Cunha

Representing the four associations were Iqbal Kherodawala, president BMPA, Prakash Canser, president MMS, Balasaheb Ambekar, president MMP and Raveendra Joshi, president PPOA. These association heads have demanded that paper and paperboards be brought under Essential Commodities Act.

Terming the price hike in paper “absurd, unending, continuous,” Kherodawala said, the prices of paper and paperboard has gone up by anywhere between 30%-50%. “It’s not just the prices of paperboard but also those papers used by the printers who print products such as calendars, brochures, books, and examination papers. These printers are committed to servicing their clients and are unable to do so because of the way in which the paper prices have gone up,” he said.

According to Joshi of PPOA, around two-crore examination papers and supplements are printed for use by the Universities like Pune University, Mumbai University and Kolhapur University in Maharashtra. “70% of the raw material cost here is paper, as it is with packaging products. Even a small price hike can be a big cost burden on the printers,” said Joshi. “Besides, the matter faced by us is unprecedented and unrelenting."

Prakash Canser, president MMS, said, the year started with a lockdown and over the next nine months, most of us struggled to keep our factories running, with increased costs of labour, transportation and medical expenses which were borne out of our pockets. “We could neither ask for an increase in prices from our customers nor could we reduce our costs, since they were essential expenses in order to survive the lockdown. Just when we thought the worst was over, the price hike by all the paper mills has made it worse.”

Ambekar of MMP, said, there are small printers across Maharashtra who are catering to different print needs of the people in Maharashtra – right from the printing of invitation cards to catalogues, magazines, local newspapers and books. A lot of families depend on these businesses, and if their profits dwindle, they will have no option but to shut shop. “This is not a desirable scenario for any economy.”

The associations hence are demanding that the paper and paperboard products are brought under the Essential Commodities Act so that when required the government can intervene to control the paper prices.

“Our point of view is simple. There are so many products that are under the Essential Commodities Act, and when there is a crisis in any one of them, the government intervenes and regulates the prices. We just want the Central Government to bring paper under the Essential Commodities Act, so that we, printers and packaging converters, are able to manage our business with any hardships,” said Kherodawala.