Print newspapers in Vietnam seek early tax cut

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A man reads a newspaper at a newsstand in Hanoi. Photo by Ngoc Thang

The Vietnamese Ministry of Finance proposes to reduce corporate tax for the print media to 10 percent from next year, but the industry wants the cut earlier because it is suffering losses and the fact its role is different from that of other industries.

Nguyen Xuan Minh, editor-in-chief of Saigon Tiep Thi newspaper, said newspapers and magazines survive on advertising and not sales revenues, but businesses, troubled by the economy, have cut their advertising expenditure.

A government survey found the print media increasing advertising revenue by 13 percent between 2008 and 2012, but that actually means a 25 percent drop if adjusted for inflation.

It also found the print media losing out to other media in terms of advertising revenue, with television now accounting for 81 percent and news websites for 5 percent.

Minh said his newspaper -- published three times a week -- was losing more than 50 percent.

Newspapers and magazines deserve better treatment since they are "cultural and spiritual products. They are a means of spreading information including government policies, and thus act as a bridge between the people and the government. So they need breaks like tax cuts."

Pham Phu Tam, editor-in-chief of Phap Luat Ho Chi Minh City, said the tax should be cut at least by July, when small and medium-sized firms will see their tax cut to 20 percent.

Newspapers have been hit hard by the economic crisis since they are not an essential item or a priority in people's shopping list.

Government officials said earlier there would have to be a road map for cutting corporate tax since a sudden reduction would translate into a huge loss to the budget.

But Tam said a tax cut for newspapers would not entail a huge cost since many of them are already subsidized and few newspapers making profits.

Former central bank governor Cao Si Kiem said the government should cut the tax for educational and medical institutions too.

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