IN the backdrop of myopic thinking that prevails among some segments of the government circles to close down institutions and stop pensions of senior and disadvantaged citizens, the Senate sub-committee on Information and Broadcasting, ably headed by Senator Irfan-ul-Haq Siddiqui, deserves credit for showing a way to the Government on how to make national institutions viable. The Committee, at its meeting on Monday, dilated upon the challenges facing the national broadcaster (Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation) and recommended charging radio fee amounting to Rs 500 from all vehicles excluding bikes at the time of registration to generational additional revenues for PBC. It also directed the PBC management to come out with a business and utilization plan aimed at boosting revenues of the Corporation.
There is no denying the fact that the country is in the midst of a financial and economic crisis but it is a test of the leadership qualities of those in power to address the challenge through vision and hard work. Radio Pakistan has been the first line of defence in the ideological frontiers of the country and its contribution in promoting national cause and rebutting anti-Pakistan propaganda is acknowledged even by our enemies. The problems being faced by Radio Pakistan should not be seen in isolation as these mirror the overall state of affairs that prevails in almost all organizations and institutions of the country. It is, however, unfortunate that the Government is in a denial mode and not willing to fulfil its responsibilities and obligations as far as Radio Pakistan is concerned and this smacks of a highly discriminatory approach as the authorities concerned are not ready to provide funds for payment to pensioners but has the money to pay sumptuous executive allowance to employees of powerful offices. In this backdrop, Senator Irfan Siddiqui deserves appreciation for his proactive role in saving a national institution and that too by offering concrete proposals for the purpose. One time levy of Rs.500 cess at the time of registration of a vehicle would add negligible burden to the buyer (who spends millions) but the measure has the potential to resolve chronic financial problems of PBC. Similarly, PBC has precious land in major cities the utilization of which can make a real difference but the land worth billions of rupees was snatched to hand it over to blue-eyed people under the so-called housing scheme of the previous government. Commercial utilization of this land bank of the PBC can provide another viable avenue for resource generation. It is hoped that the head of the Senate Committee would discuss these and other recommendations with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb and, if need be, with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for their expeditious approval and implementation as these are crucial for modernization of the institution and resolution of problems of its employees and pensioners.