ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira on Monday said that he would quit politics if he was found guilty of misusing the secret funds of his ministry, adding that the Supreme Court was misled on the issue of secret funds.
“How is it possible that Rs4 billion have been misused as secret funds when the total budget of the ministry is Rs5.58 billion,” the information minister said while talking to the media outside the Parliament House.
He said that out of the total budget, around Rs3.4 billion had been allocated only for the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC). Rejecting the allegation of any secret funds, Kaira urged the Supreme Court to take action against the people who had misguided it on this issue. He said that Rs250 million had been earmarked for the Pakistan Television to install and run boosters in remote areas of the country.
Kaira said that there were a number of organisations, including the Directorate of Film and Publications (DFP), Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) and Press Information Department (PID), for which money was allocated, as well as Rs530 million for press attaches abroad.
About the secret fund, Kaira clarified that Rs100 million were reserved for special publicity while a small amount of Rs12 million was kept under the head of secret fund meant for the treatment of ailing journalists, their family members and marriages of journalists’ daughters.
The minister assured that the relevant record would be produced before the court at the next hearing. “It is the responsibility of the court to take stern action against those who have tried to use the judiciary and spread misperceptions,” he said.
Kaira regretted that this propaganda campaign was started by a leader of an opposition party — referring to Ch Nisar — who he said should openly share the recordings and documentary proof of the distribution of funds. He said that recordings of phone conversations was the responsibility of secret agencies and the leader of an opposition party should tell the nation which agency he belonged to.
APP adds: Earlier, Qamar Zaman Kaira assured the National Assembly of early payment of the grant announced for the Media Town in 2010-11. Speaking on a point of order, the minister in reply to a question in the Senate session said it was perhaps reported that the amount had been paid. He clarified that it had not been paid yet.
The minister added that the prime minister had also announced a grant of Rs10 million for the National Press Club (NPC) that would also be paid as soon as possible.
Earlier, journalists walked out of the press gallery and demanded the promised amount for the Media Town and urged the government to intervene for the release of stuck-up salaries of media persons working with certain media houses. Taking cognisance of the walkout, the deputy speaker asked the information minister to consult the journalists.
The minister urged owners of media houses to ensure timely payment of salaries to working journalists who were sole breadearners of their families. He assured the journalists that if the issue of salaries was not redressed, the government was ready to support them.
Briefing the minister about their issues, NPC Secretary Shehryar Khan said that the government had announced a grant of Rs140 million for the Loi Bher Housing Foundation in year 2010, while the grant announced by the prime minister for the NPC was also not paid yet.
RIUJ President Waqar Satti informed the minister about non-payment of salaries to working journalists by certain media organisations.