Cultural Economics Needs More Attention

Cultural Economics  Needs More Attention Cultural Economics  Needs More Attention

The number of bookstores in the country is far below the number of beauty salons, Seyed Reza Salehi-Amiri, an advisor to President Hassan Rouhani said recently, lamenting that beauty salons exceeded the number of libraries and bookstores by 25 times.

Cultural and intellectual development is a key factor in the overall progress of the nation, he said, and called for greater attention to cultural economics, reports Borna News Agency.

Cultural economics is the branch of economics that studies the relation of culture to economic outcomes. It is concerned with the economic organization of the cultural sector and with the behavior of producers, consumers and governments in that sector.

Salehi-Amiri said cultural economics can thrive if it is promoted to the fullest extent, and could provide a good alternative for the depleting oil resources on which the national economy is based. Today, oil revenue is one-fifth of what it was decades ago. Therefore, more attention to cultural economics should be paid.  

According to figures, there are 2,200 libraries in the country of which 38 are in Tehran and 140 in Tehran Province, while in the city of Tehran alone, there are 1,047 authorized beauty salons. Thousands of beauty salons are also said to functioning without permits.

Statistics released by the Majlis (Parliament) Research center in 2013, show that on an average, 2.5% of each household’s annual expenditure was spent on buying cosmetic products. In 2013, on an average, each urban and rural household spent $950 and $750 respectively, on cosmetic products.

  Social Development

The presidential advisor further said that there are also problems in the area of social development. “People are becoming antagonistic to each other and the reason is that we have neglected the cultural and social development of our children.” Nourishing the right spirit in children in schools is as important as their education.

Emphasizing that good books open a whole world of knowledge for children, he said, “Unfortunately, we don’t encourage our children to develop a love of reading. So in adulthood, they are not in the habit of buying books, and their children in turn put reading and buying books last in the queue.”

According to the Persian language newspaper ‘Donya-e-eqtesad’, a sister publication of the Financial Tribune, while the country’s population has reached 80 million, the number of copies of each book published rarely exceeds 2,000 to 3,000.

Official figures last year (ended March 20, 2015) showed that 73,000 books with an average number of 2,090 copies each were published. The total cover price was around $392.4 million. On the other hand, only $58.1 million was earned from the sales of the books during the year, indicating the deteriorating situation of the publishing industry.

In the current year (ends March 19), 15 million books (aside from school books) have been published, and one of the reasons for the increase is improvement in the economic situation following last July’s historic nuclear accord, and the lifting of the sanctions.

  Tax Exemption

Earlier this year, Hossein Nooshabadi, deputy culture minister for legal and parliamentary affairs announced that from now on “all bookstores across the country are exempted from paying taxes,” a  measure taken by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic  Guidance to promote book sales.

Alireza Raees Danaee, managing director of ‘Negah’ publishing house and bookstore, said he paid $2000 last year as tax for the bookstore located in Tehran’s Enqelab Square.

“We are happy that we have been exempted from paying tax but still there are some legal problems,” he said.

For example, one of the directives issued to booksellers by the Iranian National Tax Administration is that every bookseller should have an audit of all financial transactions, which means “we should employ someone with a salary of at least $5200 each year.” Therefore it is more economical for bookstores to pay taxes.