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December 8, 2018

APNS, PBA criticise information minister for misleading statement


December 8, 2018

KARACHI: The All Pakistan Newspapers Society and the Pakistan Broadcasters Association has taken a strong exception to the statement of Federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain in which he has claimed that around half of the dues of the media industry have been paid to the media houses and yet none of that amount was used to pay salaries of the workers.

The information minister is quoted to say, "half (Rs6 billion) of the $9.6 million (Rs1.3 billion) was released to media houses who kept all of the money for themselves instead of paying their journalists."

Such statements are false and can create conflict within the media industry. Previously also the minister made disparaging public remarks against the news media industry which is highly regrettable.

The fact is that the media over dues of the governments (federal and provincial) are over Rs8 billion and not Rs1.3 billion. Furthermore the government hasn't even released 10 percent let alone half of the 1.3 billion fictitious figure given by the information minister. Out of the Rs8 billion around Rs3 billion is overdue for more than four years, and the rest Rs3 billion is overdue by nine months to 15 months. The majority dues to media industry are of the federal and punjab governments.

The Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan had called a special meeting to facilitate the settlement of the media dues. He had asked the federal and provincial governments to clear the undisputed dues within 30 days. However, even after 60 days almost the dues still remain unpaid. Both the federal information minister and the federal finance minister were present in this meeting.

The joint statement by PBA and APNS criticised the remarks by the information minister, as not only being inaccurate and misleading but also not befitting a federal minister. To set the record straight, so far not even 10% of the total amount owed by the federal and provincial governments has been paid, despite the assurances given by Prime Minister Imran Khan to the APNS Executive Committee on October 16, 2018 and subsequent meetings and joint forums of PBA and APNS with the government.

The information minister appears to be misinformed by his ministry. It is recommended that he should reconfirm his facts before making public statements, as incorrect and false information, would reflect upon his credibility and status.

The APNS and the PBA requested the prime minister to advise the concerned ministries to honor their commitments to the media and clear the outstanding dues.

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