ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Secretary Information Marriyum Aurangzeb has said her party has demanded an increase in the budget for film and drama, tax incentives for artists, environment and education.

Speaking in the National Assembly, she said if quality management centres were set up to improve environment, it will have a positive impact on provinces as well.

The move could have positive impact on environmental pollution and improve the air quality index, she said.

“The world and neighbouring countries are moving towards renewable energy storage technology. Advances in renewable energy storage technology should also be made in Pakistan. The government must set aside resources to promote renewable energy storage technology.

“We support the Senate’s proposal to allocate funds in the budget for this. Our record in science and technology and research is not good, we are far behind in the field of research.”

She pointed out that the Finance Bill was completely silent on the important issue of wildlife, wetlands and juniper forest conservation and preservation.

She called for appropriate funds in the budget for the protection and preservation of forests and wildlife.

She lashed out at the government saying environmental protection and monitoring agencies are paralysed by lack of resources. The Ministry of Environment has a department, but no resources.She said the PML-N had given the country the first culture and film policy in 2018 to highlight the national identity globally after terrorism. All over the world, national identity and culture are positively portrayed through films and dramas.

In 2018, film production was exempted from withholding tax for five years through the film and culture policy. This measure should be continued and artists should be exempted from income tax. Films made in regional languages should be exempted from tax, she said.

Ms Aurangzeb said materials produced for children in national and regional languages should be tax-exempt as well.

She said animated content for children in Pakistan was mostly foreign, which was having a negative effect on their language. This sector should be tax exempt for the production of domestic animated material for children.

She said the lack of such concessions hampered the production of films and dramas. The tax holiday concession of the PML-N government for this sector should be restored.

The PML-N secretary information said cinema halls were part of our culture but they became wedding halls as movies production stopped.

The tax exemption on construction of cinemas was also part of the 2018 film culture policy, she added.

“Cinema income should be exempted from tax for five years, and regulatory duty on film and drama should be abolished,” she proposed. There is no medium other than film, drama and regional languages to promote Pakistan’s culture globally.Ms Aurangzeb said the allocation for education as a percentage of GDP in 2018 was 2.8pc which has decreased to 2.4pc in three years.

The IMF itself is saying that the allocation for education should be 2.8pc of GDP. The higher education situation in the country has deteriorated, funds for university and primary education have been reduced.

“The current government has slashed the budget for the education sector by more than half, bringing it back to the 2018 level.”

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2021

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