The proposals would be forwarded to the Ministry of Planning and Reforms and Finance Division for inclusion in the federal budget for the year 2017-18. The committee met under the chairmanship of Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla.
The committee thoroughly discussed and scrutinised the budgetary proposals relating to Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of Information and Broadcasting Division and its attached departments for the year 2017-18.
The committee was apprised that Information and Broadcasting Division has demanded an allocation of Rs447.9 million for 12 ongoing projects, besides Rs2560.12 million for 28 new projects. The committee was apprised that 10 projects of Pakistan Television and two projects of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation are under way and they would be completed in the current fiscal year upon grant of budgetary allocation. The committee was informed that there were a total of 22 projects for 2016-17 with a total capital cost of Rs1,125.68 million. The government earmarked Rs335.405 million for 2016-17 of which Rs174 million were released and Rs114.77 million have so far been utilised. The committee members expressed their serious concern over delay in completion of projects, while saying that cost of these projects has increased by 10 times due to delay in their completion.
The representative from Information and Broadcasting Division apprised the committee members that PTV had submitted three new projects mainly relating to establishment of rebroadcast stations, replacement of obsolete equipment and construction of auditorium at PTV Academy, Islamabad.
The committee was further apprised that the Division had demanded a budgetary allocation for 25 new projects of PBC, PNCA, PID, APPC, DEMP, ISA and PEMRA, which mainly relate to establishment of infrastructure, replacement of obsolete equipment and capacity enhancement of abovementioned departments.
The committee directed the Information and Brocading Division to direct PTV and PBC to complete the ongoing project within current fiscal year. The committee also directed the Division to submit a report of inclusion or non-inclusion of the PSDP budgetary proposals in the federal budget within thirty days of the committee's recommendation required under rule 7 of rule 201 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007.
MNA Talal Chaudhry expressed annoyance over delay in completion of ongoing projects. He further said that billions of rupees are being collected through electricity bills, while funds are still being sought from the government. He further said that cameras procured in the 1980s are still being used, then why such a huge amount is being collected from the general public.
Chairman PEMRA Absar Alam said that system is being moved from analogue to digitalisation, which would improve services. He said that software would be developed for monitoring up to 250 channels. Currently 107 TV channels are operational in the country, while only 50 of them are being monitored. New satellite channel licences are not being issued which is negatively affecting revenue. The PEMRA demanded Rs75 million as seed money for a new project of Universal Service Fund for implementation of digitalisation plan. The PEMRA licencees would contribute to the fund to reach out to underserved and un-served areas of the country, he said.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2017