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Web Desk
July 21, 2020

Federal cabinet postpones increase in PTV licencing fee


Web Desk
Tue, Jul 21, 2020
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz addressing a press conference in Islamabad, on July 21, 2020. — PID  

ISLAMABAD: The Federal Cabinet has deferred the decision on increasing the licencing fee of Paksitan Television (PTV) to the next meeting, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said Tuesday.

However, the "federal Cabinet postponed the matter", he noted. "The PTV used to be a great institution with an illustrious history like Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM).”

"These all were symbols of [Pakistan's] greatness. As time passed, however, the successive governments, instead of strengthening and improving these institutions, took them to destruction.

"The PTV then became an institution wherein there were political hirings [including those] from the PPP and the PML-N. The mismanagement and meritless hirings consequently brought the institution down to the ground," he noted.

The minister added that the PTI-led government now required a huge investment in order to rebrand the PTV as the state's representative and a voice of Pakistan.

"We also cannot pay the pensions because of a large number of pensioners — at least 3,000 — who have yet to be paid pensions. So, to fix all the management and technical issues, including outdated cameras and no production work going on, we are forced to come to this decision, rather proposal.

"Now, as far as building and restructuring is concerned, planning has already been completed," Faraz said, adding that nothing could be done without the resources, especially when the issues of pensions, salaries, and new equipment had to be solved.

"Obviously, that requires a big investment and there will be further discussion on this matter [later] and opinions will be sought. Therefore, the matter has been deferred to next week.

With regard to the recent information released pertaining to asset details and nationalities of Prime Minister Imran Khan's aides and special assistants, the minister said the Cabinet lauded the move, which he said was based on the PTI chairperson's longstanding stance.

"PM Imran has always believed that all public representatives should declare their assets and he did that in 2011 too when he asked the core committee members to declare their assets — that we did. This is yet another step in that process, a step he promised and now that promise has been fulfilled.

Noting that "this has never been done before", Faraz said individual steps were the start of a long journey, including transparency for not only the elected public representatives but advisers and special assistants as well, since they were part of the government and the Cabinet.

The condition of declaring assets was applicable on the prime minister's advisers and special assistants as well. "I believe the entire Cabinet lauded the prime minister's decision and it was stressed that we would go forward with this philosophy," he said.

Speaking about the wheat and flour crises, the federal minister said Prime Minister Imran Khan had inquired about the matter from relevant ministry. "The government is currently trying to ensure flour prices do not rise.

"Wheat imports worth 1.5 million tonnes were allowed to close the gap between supply and demand," he said, adding that there was a shortage of 1.5 million tonnes at one point in time. However, some tonnes' worth of orders have been processed, he added.

The minister said hoarding was "hostility towards the society" and urged people to report those who engaged in such menaces. Action would be taken against hoarders, he promised.

Faraz noted that the government of Sindh would be asked not to charge taxes on wheat imports and instead facilitate them further.

"Imran Khan is fulfilling the dream of 'roti, kapra, aur makaan' through the Ehsaas [Emergency Cash] Programme. Others spoke about 'roti, kapra, aur makaan' but that remained merely a chant," he said, taking a jibe at Sindh's ruling party, the PPP, and referring to its slogan of providing basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and housing.

The information minister said the PTI's efforts made it easier for people to purchase houses. "Home financing is provided all over the world," he said.

"The start of the construction industry will revolutionise the country," he claimed. People should take full advantage of the incumbent government's initiatives for the said sector, he added.

The minister said a report on the Ehsaas Emergency Cash Programme was presented in the Cabinet meeting today and that PM Imran congratulated Sania Nishtar — his special assistant on poverty alleviation and social safety — for providing relief to the deserving people in an efficient manner.

A question was raised to what was the Ehsaas programme's political gain to the ruling PTI, to which the prime minister responded not everything was done with that goal in mind, Faraz added. "Prime Minister Imran Khan says the Ehsaas programme is not aimed at gaining a political edge but to please god."

With regard to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he said Pakistan was able to control it "due to Prime Minister Imran Khan's strategy". During the crisis, the government observed that there would have been challenges had the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) not existed, he added.

"Take precautions on Eid-ul-Azha so that the coronavirus situation does not worsen," he stressed during the press conference, adding that people needed to take a lot of care during the upcoming festivities.