While we appreciate the removal of taxes on motor vehicles, cameras and electronic goods, we hope the President will give thought to removing the taxes on reading material.
The prevailing prices of books and magazines mean that we cannot buy them. Some find even a newspaper expensive. Taxes on reading material are a tax on knowledge.
Time was when a newspaper cost five cents or 10 cents. A standard dictionary cost Rs. 15. It was customary for us teachers to buy one or two books every month, so we could build a library of our own. A novel cost Rs. 1.50 or Rs. 2.
Hawkers went from door to door selling second-hand books. They could rattle off the names of popular authors. There were second-hand bookshops that lent books on a one rupee deposit.
No wonder people of that era were voracious readers.
Today students and the general public have lost the reading habit. Apart from the class texts, they never venture to read other books. This is a tragedy. It is time the government took steps to remove the taxes on knowledge.
A bigger reading public means a more enlightened nation.
D. M. V. E. Pieris,