The government through the ministry of finance brought to parliament last year a bill that sought to amend the VAT law. The bill was eventually passed The VAT Act, 2013 (Act 870)& Amendments.

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The government through the ministry of finance brought to parliament last year a bill that sought to amend the VAT law. The bill was eventually passed The VAT Act, 2013 (Act 870)& Amendments.

According to him, this amendment imposed VAT on a list of materials that are imported into the country to support education, culture and lifestyles. These include books and other teaching and learning materials. This decision by government ostensibly is to support the printing of books locally even though they were not consulted throughout the stages for the passage of the amendment.

Speaking at a news conference held in Accra, the President of Ghana Publishers Association, Mr Asare Konadu Yamoah hinted that while this is a laudable strategy and could potentially drive investment and business to the printing sector of the book industry, there are more that need to be done to bring about the intended advantages. The blanket imposition of VAT of about 27.5% at the onset has not helped to reduce importation and the cost of books in the country. This is because, not all the books required in our schools are published in the country.

He said most of the books for Technical and Vocational education, books for tertiary education and books to support the development of a reading culture are mostly imported and cannot be printed locally as they are not published in the country.

Therefore categorizing all of them and those that are indigenously published and printed overseas and imposing a blanket VAT to the level currently being charged cannot be justified. Coupled with the exchange rate instability, no matter how much publishers will do, prices for books will go up.

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According to him, currently the quotations for printing of books locally as compared to the overseas quotes, still stands at a disadvantage for local printing. Therefore the supposed policy intervention in support of local printing has not helped. Unless the intention was to raise revenue.

The issue that faces us as an industry is not about imposing huge taxes on overseas printing as a measure to discourage import, but government providing huge incentives to enable our local printing firms to be competitive. Taxes on printing inputs which are all imported have to be removed. Credit for the purchase of printing inputs which are all imported should be favourable. The current situation with our banks cannot help domestic printing of books. Even though the cost of importation has gone up astronomically, once importers of printed books are able to raise funds, they are likely to still import from outside as the cost of importation will still be cheaper than the local printing.

Mr Konadu Yamoah mentioned that the association are ready to meet with government agencies, particularly the ministry of finance and Ghana Revenue Authority on this issue and hope that if they’re all thinking about Ghana, then dialogue and consultations will have to be the anchor of government’s relationship with business.

Until such conversation is initiated, prices of books will have to be adjusted. Starting from June, prices will go up between 30% to 40%. This decision was not easy to make considering the difficult challenges businesses and the citizens are faced with.

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” We therefore seek the understanding of Ghanaians as we have to protect our businesses from collapse” he emphasis.

The way and manner NaCCA handled the transition made publishers loose huge investments and revenue.

That notwithstanding, they supported the transition and successfully developed manuscripts for the first phase of the curriculum changes and they are currently being used in schools.

However, the association intercepted a circular dated 8th February 2024 emanating from the office of the director general directing private schools to send their orders of textbooks printed by Appointed Time Printing base on the Common Core Programme to NaCCA.

This was a fundamental error in administration particularly from a regulator of an industry. The Education Regulatory Bodies Act 2020( Act 1023) that established NaCCA did not allocate a marketing responsibility to NaCCA.

In fact, it is inappropriate and unconstitutional for a regulator to intervene in the textbook market other than assessment and approval of the textbooks.

“We found this action very worrying and our letter to NaCCA to promptly withdraw the circular was complied with. Surely NaCCA understood the implications” he lamented.

Meanwhile, the ministry has been unable to pay for textbooks ordered from publishers under the Standard Based Curriculum ( totaling about 320,000,000 Ghana cedis) and even that could not satisfy their textbook objective of one child per textbook and has not been able to supply to schools the complete set of required textbooks for all the subjects.

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