‘Govt to segregate print, electronic media budget’

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KARACHI – The government will segregate advertisement budget of print and electronic media soon in an attempt to create a balanced budget for the print media, said Federal Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan on Saturday while talking to Karachi-based editors.
Awan said that she would hold meetings with the senior media officials to evolve a balanced budget for both the print and electronic media, explaining that print media organizations have pointed out that a large chunk of the government’s advertisement was going to the electronic media.
“We will sit with the eminent media personalities and get their views to prepare separate and balanced budget for the print media,” the minister said. She added that the government wanted to revive and strengthen the media, and for this purpose, she will hold meetings with media people to evolve some sort of mechanism.
The minister pointed out that the government considers media as a marketing tool, and the media should create good image of the country at the international level. Awan further said that Pakistan Electronic Media Regularity Authority (PEMRA) would be turned into an independent and neutral institution.
She asserted, however, that PEMRA cannot be made hostage by a minority in the electronic media who wants to control this regulatory body. “We would have to strengthen the institutions to make the system stronger and viable for a long time,” she said.
The information minister also said the government has been facing difficult challenges from day one, such as the war on terror, weak financial position, energy crisis, and circular debt among other. Despite that, she said, the government managed to enforce the new NFC award with the objective to give more financial autonomy to the provinces.
“Levying the Reformed General Sales Tax (RGST) is crucial to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio and to bring more people into the tax-net,” Awan argued, adding that if the government can develop political consensus on the 18th and 19th amendments, then some sort of agreement can also be reached at regarding levying the RGST.
Awan said the unpopular decisions are the bitter ones for the people, but they are taken in the national interest. She said the government was giving Rs 162 billion subsidy to PEPCO every year and maintained that the subsidies would have to be phased out to reduce fiscal imbalance and deficit.
She dispelled the impression that the government has gone on the back foot after the assassination of Salman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti, and stated the brother of Shahbaz Bhatti has been appointed as special assistant to prime minister with the status of federal minister.
She also said the government was holding meetings with the family of late Salman Taseer and discussing with them different post-murder developments. The family of Taseer has expressed some apprehensions that cannot be shared with the media, she added.