Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) and Kao Chia-yu (高嘉瑜), as well as representatives from the publishing industry, yesterday called on the culture and finance ministries to support the publishing industry with better policies, as the number of new books published in the nation continues to fall.
“Reading is a symbol of the national power of a country,” Chiu told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
Relevant government agencies should treat the cultivation of reading and cultural power as a “major policy to promote,” he said.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
“The Ministry of Culture should promote a national reading movement,” Chiu said, adding that starting from a young age, children should be encouraged to read the classics, as well as other books.
Reading enhances an individual’s knowledge and, in turn, the comprehensive capability of a country’s citizens and national power, he said.
The number of new books published in the nation has fallen each year over the past decade, he said, adding that the rate of decline is accelerating.
A total of 36,810 new books were published in Taiwan last year, a 5.89 percent decline from the previous year and an 18-year low, Chiu’s office said in a news release, citing National Central Library data.
Chiu, Kao and other members of the Legislative Yuan have proposed draft amendments to Article 7 of the Value-added and Non-value-added Business Tax Act (加值型及非加值型營業稅法) to add physical books to the list of goods and services with a business tax rate of zero, Chiu’s office said in a statement.
They have also proposed draft amendments to articles 4 and 17 of the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) to make physical books exempt from business income tax and to introduce a special deduction for purchases of physical books, the statement said.
The proposals are awaiting Legislative Yuan committee reviews, it added.
The joy derived from reading is “completely different” from that obtained by looking at one’s smartphone, Kao told the news conference, adding that the habit of reading must be cultivated from an early age.
Reading is “very effective” at relieving stress, she said.
She said that while the publishing industry had initially been excited about the Ministry of Culture’s “Arts FUN Go” (藝FUN券) voucher program, due to the vouchers’ wide range of uses, only a portion has gone to the publishing industry.
The program was launched this year by the Ministry of Culture to boost spending in the arts and culture sectors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steve Wu (吳政鴻), president of the New Taipei City Publishers Association, said that the publishing industry has seen about a 20 to 30 percent drop in sales this year, citing the association’s estimates.
Taxation Administration Deputy Director-General Lee I-hui (李怡慧) said that books make up just one aspect of an individual’s consumption, and if they were to be listed as a tax deduction, other people could request the same for other expenditures, which could affect the nation’s finances.
The Ministry of Finance would continue to work with the Ministry of Culture toward offering tax exemptions to publishers to help the development of the industry, she said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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