ISLAMABAD: Directions have been issued to the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) to release the pending dues of employees before Ramazan 20.

A Senate committee on Friday also suggested that vehicle owners should be charged up to Rs5,000 for subscription to Radio Pakistan because the national broadcaster needed to be steered out of a financial crises.

A subcommittee of the Senate Standing Committee on Information held a detailed briefing on the financial condition of the PBC and expressed serious concern over non-payment of pensions and salaries to its serving as well as retired employees.

Convener of the subcommittee Senator Irfan Siddiqui asked the management of the PBC to give a deadline for releasing the pending pensions and salaries of the Radio Pakistan employees.

Senate panel suggests charging vehicle owners for subscription to Radio Pakistan

Radio Pakistan Director GeneralTahir Hassan assured the subcommittee that two months’ pending pension as well as two months’ pending salaries of the employees will be cleared before Eid.

The committee was informed about the financial woes of Radio Pakistan and that it was currently facing a revenue shortfall of around Rs2.2 billion. Officials also requested the senators to help them in obtaining a one-time bailout grant of Rs1 billion to meet its expenditures for May and June.

Senator Siddiqui asked the officials of Radio Pakistan to prepare a financial recovery plan and present it to the Senate standing committee after getting approval of the Radio Pakistan Board.

“The problem is that you people have been acting on your own bypassing the rules – eventually things will not materialise and financial conditions will not improve,” Senator Siddiqui said.

Some options for financial recovery of Radio Pakistan included charging up to Rs5,000 from vehicle owners as radio subscription at the time of registration and payment of the token fee.

“We need to have business development plans on modern lines including harnessing potentials of properties owned by radio but all steps have to be taken in accordance with the law and in a transparent manner,” the convener of the subcommittee added.

The issue of rental income by Radio Pakistan was raised by Senator Waqar Mehdi, and the subcommittee was informed that around Rs748 million were yet o be recovered in terms of rent.

The subcommittee was informed that most of the tenants were government departments at Radio Pakistan buildings and land while many were not paying rents whereas Sindh Rangers had occupied a portion of Radio Pakistan building on M.A. Jinnah Road, Karachi without any approval.

Senator Mehdi said Radio Pakistan had given its property to private institutions at very low rates and significant efforts were not being made to recover the pending amount.

“One property in Karachi has been rented at Rs54 per square foot to a fast food restaurant. This is unfair and Radio Pakistan has not done anything serious to get Rangers out of the building.

“Did you write to Sindh government or the interior ministry against actions of Rangers. Besides, why is Radio Pakistan paying the utility bills of that building?” he added.

Senator Siddiqui assured the officials of Radio Pakistan of help from the Senate body but only if they acted to improve their recoveries.

He also directed the officials to refurbish Z.A. Bukhari auditorium in PBC headquarters Islamabad while Senator Mehdi promised to get donations for carpets, furniture and so on.

Published in Dawn, March 25th, 2023

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