In a bid to pull the ailing Radio Pakistan out of a deep financial crunch, a National Assembly standing committee approved recommendations by the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) to collect 2% tax on every recharge from cellular phone users and a one-time fee on the purchase of new vehicles.
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Broadcasting and Information on Thursday approved the recommendations in a bid to generate additional funds for the state institution now tottering on the brink. The plan envisages a broadcast cess of 2% on users of cellular phones and one-time cess of Rs4,000 per unit on sale of all categories of motor vehicles which are equipped with radio receivers.
The meeting, presided by MNA Belum Hasnain, was informed by Radio Pakistan Director General Murtaza Solangi that they have forwarded a road map to the Ministry of Information as well as the finance ministry to nurse the PBC back to financial health.
“We are facing a financial crunch and cannot survive without the generation of new revenue for the state-run radio,” said Solangi. The government-run radio has 3.5 million minutes of valuable recording in archives which is being digitalised, he informed the committee, adding that 100,000 minutes have already been digitalised and made available on YouTube channel the PBC’s. The meeting, in consultation with other members, supported the idea to collect 2% revenue on every recharge from cellular users which would enable Radio Pakistan to collect Rs4 billion per annum.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Shakeel Awan, however, raised objections to the idea, saying that 26% was already being deducted from every mobile recharge of Rs100.
“The public should be given relief. The government can’t push them into a blind alley,” he said. PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq also objected to the idea and urged the government to find a parallel and viable option to help the radio sector and revise the policies of Radio Pakistan.
With regards to the one-time fee from car buyers, members of the National Assembly panel contended that the person who can afford a vehicle of Rs2.5 million can also contribute some money for the revival of an ailing national institution.
Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan assured the committee that the government will not burden the poor masses by any means. She said that the government has presented a comprehensive package to resolve the problems faced by the PBC including the recommendations which have been put before the committee for further guidance and support.
“The finance ministry has agreed to support these recommendations in the next finance bill,” Awan informed the committee.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2012.