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Event Title: Meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, chaired by Senator Faisal Javed, which met here at Parliament House on Monday 14 March 2022.

Event Date: 2022-03-14

—The culture of “Fake news” must end, says Senator Faisal Javed.

—Senator Faisal stressed the need for consultation with all the concerns regarding “The prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA)”.

—-The Chairman Standing Committee issued directions to compile all the speeches of Prime Minister Imran Khan from 2018-to date, and present the miscellany in the committee; as was the trend in the past.

—Senator Faisal also sought details of all the class-4 employees who were working in Zohb Radio station.

Islamabad, 14 March 2022: The Senate Standing Committee on Information and Broadcasting, chaired by Senator Faisal Javed, which met here at Parliament House on Monday deferred the consultation on “The Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) due to the non-presence of the Joint Action Committee (JAC).

To the question of the chair, while discussing the PECA ordinance, the Secretary Ministry of Information and Broadcasting informed the committee that PECA has not been discussed in the ministry nor it has been debated yet, adding that the matter also comes under the umbrella of Ministry of Information and technology and need to be taken onboard on the matter. Senator Faisal maintained that there are certain reservations (of which some are valid) of different media outlets regarding the ordinance and the Ministry should listen to their outcry. He asserted that Prime Minister of Pakistan is a staunch supporter of freedom of expression and will never restrict media liberty. He called for fruitful consultation on PECA, adding that if the recommendations of the JAC and the media outlets regarding PECA are worthy then they must be considered and taken up. Senator Moula Bux Chandio said that hearing all the parties on important issues is a good tradition which needs to stay alive.

The Chairman Committee remarked that “Fake News” must end. He underlined the need for building consensus to end the culture of Fake news. After initial discussion on the matter the consultation on the PECA was deferred till the next meeting.

The matter pertaining to non-compilation of the Prime Minister speeches ( as was the practice in the past) was also discussed in the meeting. Senator Irfan Siddiqui said that the speeches of the PM used to be compiled in the past,  why the ministry has put an end to this trend, he inquired. The Chairman Committee sought from the Ministry the compilation of all the speeches of Prime Minister Imran Khan from 2018 to date. The secretary ministry of Information and Broadcasting told the committee that the ministry would request the press section of Prime Minister Office for providing materials of the speeches and will revert to the committee.

The Ministry briefed the committee on the budgetary proposals for Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) for Financial year 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. The Secretary Minsitry of Information and Broadcasting told the committee that the current PSDP 2021-2022 consists of total 15 PSDP projects with allocation of Rs. 1899.530 million. 1 project is foreign funded by the Chinese Government for which allocation of Rs. 504.650 million is available in the current development budget. It was further apprised that out of said 15 projects, 11 projects are likely to be completed by the end of june , 2022. The remaining 4 projects , 3 of Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) and 1 foreign funded of PTVC, will be carried forward to the next financial year and will be part of next year’s PSDP.

It was further informed that the next year budgetary proposal for 2022-2023 also comprises of 14 PSDP projects, including 4 on-going schemes of current year and 10 new schemes. An amount of Rs. 11.856 billion is proposed for allocation to 14 projects, Rs. 7.156 billion for 10 new schemes and Rs. 4.7 billion for on-going schemes. The proposed allocation includes foreign grant-in-aid of Rs. 3.3 billion, official added further. The ministry underlined that almost all new schemes are meant for transformation of departments and corporations on modern lines through up-gradation of equipment and technological advancement. The Chairman Committee after receiving the presentation on the budgetary proposal said that the committee members after reviewing the budgetary proposal for PSDP would give its recommendations in the next meeting.

Senator Kamran Murtaza raised the issue of coked out transmitter in Zohb, Balochistan , Transfer of class-4 staff from the said radio station to other provinces and alleged sale of radio station land. The officials from Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) informed the committee that the transmitter in Zohb was installed in 1998 and after 15 years (which is the lifetime of any transmitter) the transmitter in 2014 was turned down. In 2015, a transmitter of 100 KW was installed in DI Khan which covers the Zohb area, too. On the issue of transfer of Class-4 employees, the official apprised that the said employees have been transferred to nearby stations and not to other provinces. He assured the committee that the said land of the Radio station has never been sold out so the allegations regarding selling out of the land have no footings. The Chairman Committee sought details in the next meeting of all the Class-4 staff who were working in the Zohb Radio station. The matter was disposed-of and now would be taken up in the next senate sitting.

Due to the non-presence of the mover (Senator Saleem Madviwala) “The Access of Media (Deaf and Dumb) Persons Bill, 2022” was deferred.

The Senators including  Moula Bux Chandio, Anwar Lal Dean, Muhammad Tahir Bizinjo, Irfan ul Haque Siddiqui, Naseema Ehsan and Senior officials from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, led by the Secretary of Information and Broadcasting attended the meeting while Senator Kamran Murtaza also showed up as mover.