Pakistan’s information minister says government has deferred decision to raise state broadcaster’s fees
State-run Pakistan Television (PTV) requires a “large investment” to restore it to the greatness it once enjoyed as the country’s premier broadcasting network, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said on Tuesday.
Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the federal cabinet, the minister claimed that PTV had been “destroyed” by previous governments, who had packed it with political appointees. “The mismanagement and meritless hiring consequently brought the institution down to the ground,” he claimed.
He said the current funding required by PTV was untenable for the government and it needed reforms to become a profitable enterprise once more. “We cannot pay pensions because a large number of pensioners—at least 3,000—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 So, to fix all the management and technical issues, including outdated cameras and no production work going on, we are forced to come to this decision, rather proposal [to restructure],” he said.
“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,” he said, adding that a recommendation to increase the PTV license fees from Rs. 35 to Rs. 100 would also be taken up once more then.
Ehsaas Cash Program
“Imran Khan is fulfilling the dream of ‘roti, kapra, aur makaan’ through the Ehsaas Program,” said Faraz, adding that a report on the program’s disbursements thus far had been placed before the cabinet. Prime Minister Imran Khan, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, said it had provided relief to millions of households during difficult circumstances.
Appreciating the report compiled by Special Assistant to the P.M. on Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Sania Nishtar, Khan the program was transparent, rule-based, apolitical and comprehensive.
According to the report, Rs. 203 billion were allocated to deliver one-time emergency cash handouts to 16.9 million families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It claimed that considering average family sized, this represented nearly 109 million people or half the country’s population.
To a question on the Ehsaas program’s political gains for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the information minister said the prime minister believed every action shouldn’t have a political goal. “Prime Minister Imran Khan says the Ehsaas program is not aimed at gaining a political edge but to please God,” he added.
Referring to the ongoing wheat and flour shortages, which have resulted in price hikes of both commodities, Faraz said the prime minister had sought clarification on it from the relevant ministries.
“Wheat imports of 1.5 million tons have been allowed to close the gap between supply and demand,” he said, claiming this situation would soon be resolved. He also hit out at hoarders, and urged the public to report anyone found artificially creating a shortage to raise prices.
Referring to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Faraz said Pakistan had been able to control it “due to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s strategy.” He urged the public to continue adopting preventative measures on Eidul Azha so the situation does not worsen.