Budget FY24: government to promote screen tourism

June 18, 2023

Budget FY24: government to promote screen tourism


n the recently-announced budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, the government has allocated Rs3 billion for the art sector and artists – Rs1 billion for the insurance of artists and Rs2 billion for film production.

Moreover, another Rs1 billion rupees have been designated for journalists.

Speaking exclusively to this reporter, Federal Minister for Information Maryam Aurangzeb said that through these films the government aims to portray Pakistan’s narrative, its history, heritage and culture at the international level; thereby promoting “screen tourism”.

‘Screen tourism’ refers to promoting a place via films and movies such that domestic and foreign tourists come to see it.

During the conversation, Ms. Aurangzeb was hopeful that the move with help promote the film industry and get more facilities. Moreover, the money allocated for the insurance policy for artists will promote their welfare.

Shedding light on how the money for film productions will be disbursed, she explained that it will be allocated as a grant, not as a loan.

“Each film will be evaluated separately, and it will then be decided whether the makers will be assisted on a full or partnership basis,” she said.

The information minister further clarified that the purpose of this grant money was not to limit the topics of the movies but to expand the range of the topics to promote film tourism.

“A 10-member film council will decide on the amount of aid set aside for film production,” she said, adding that representatives of producers’ association and heads of various institutions will be part of the council.

“This film council will decide which story can be given support for filmmaking, and to what extent and how much money will be allocated,” Aurangzeb said.

Regarding the insurance policy for artists, she said that the artists will be insured based on their income and their names will be suggested by the Pakistan Film Producers Association.

“In this context, the rules laid down for the existing health card will be followed so that the needy artists can benefit from it,” the information minister said.

Industry reacts

Most filmmakers in Pakistan have lauded the government’s move; however, many have emphasized the need to make the procedure transparent.

‘Best step’

Filmmaker Fizza Ali Meerza expressed joy terming it a “very good step” by the government. “If taken in the right direction, the move will yield very good results,” she said.

‘Longstanding demand’

Mandviwala Entertainment CEO Nadeem Mandviwala, when asked about the decision said noted that filmmakers had been asking for a long time that instead of loans, the government should issue grants for film production.

“If the government has allocated funds for film production, it is very encouraging for [the country’s] filmmakers. This will also encourage filmmakers who are hesitant to make films due to the small number of cinemas in the country,” he said.

Head of Mastermind Productions Hasan Zia commented that the development of the film industry is connected to the country’s economy.

While he appreciated these measures, he also added that without improving the overall economic situation of the country, substantial results cannot be achieved.

Moreover, Zia cautioned: “The government has to ensure that the money allocated for film production reaches only the genuine filmmakers and the crop quails [opportunists] cannot benefit from it.”

Actors hail insurance initiative

Several actors and filmstars especially lauded the proposed initiative of the insurance policy for artists.

A-list actor Adnan Siddiqui felt the move was a significant milestone in facilitating an industry whose members are often left flailing once they part ways with the industry or are too old to work.

“This is a significant milestone that artists have long been awaiting. For years, artists have faced numerous challenges and struggled with financial insecurities, often lacking access to proper healthcare, social security, and insurance coverage.

This much-needed support recognizes the invaluable contributions of artists to society and acknowledges their financial vulnerabilities. It demonstrates a long overdue appreciation for the arts and provides a safety net for artists, ensuring their well-being and fostering a thriving creative ecosystem,” Siddiqui said.

Senior actor Sajid Hassan termed the decision an “important step” and said: “As an artist, I feel that this is the government’s best decision since most creative people [artists] are usually not economically well off.”

Especially thanking Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif and the information minister, he said that they should “not only be praised but saluted”.

Veteran actor Behroze Sabzwari too praised the government’s decision and said: “This is great work.”

However, he said that the government should also extend the policy to cameramen and other technical persons associated with the showbiz industry so that they can also benefit from it.

Budget FY24: government to promote screen tourism