‘Media trial’ and foreign investment
ACCORDING to the federal minister for information, the cause of discouraging foreign investment in the country is the media. This logic was given by him while addressing a press conference along with the minister of railways.
The minister complained that the government believed in the freedom of the media but it was the media which was taking advantage of this freedom. This country was suffering greatly with incessant media trials of government departments.
As an example, he quoted the criticism on hiring of rental power projects and losses in the railways ministry. It appears that either the minister is showing one side of the picture deliberately or is oblivious of the unfair dealings in these sectors.
In the case of rental power projects, transaction was not found transparent. Besides, if the dues of IPPs had been cleared on time, their power generation capacity now would have been enough to cater to the requirement of the country.
The minister, while criticising the media, had perhaps failed to appreciate that the media’s role is to keep a vigilant eye on public functionaries and keep the nation posted if any misdemeanour is committed by them.
In my opinion this is not a ‘media trial’ but positive criticism that ensures that public funds are not squandered by government functionaries.
In the case of the railways, the less said the better. The minister had himself admitted that the railways required 100 locomotives whereas 80 sick locomotives could be brought to function with an investment of Rs400m.
These sick locomotives were bought by previous Minister Javed Ashraf a few years back from China through a shady deal. These locomotives went inoperative within two years.
Why hasn’t the government approached the Chinese company which, according to terms of agreement, is bound to make them serviceable?
Why are they insisting on buying new ones?
The media is only fulfilling its professional commitment by criticising the government of the blatant corruption committed in government-owned organisations. For instance, in the case of Pakistan Steel Mills alone the media has uncovered the loss to the tune of Rs30bn to the government-owned entity.
Sadly these are the very non-professional favourites appointed by the government who caused such a colossal loss to the profit-making body within a year. In order to bail it out, the government had to inject a huge subsidy of Rs10bn.
If foreign investment is not coming, it is not because of the so-called media trial but it is on account of the shenanigans of government functionaries, who are rightly being exposed by the media.
Moreover, law and order is another significant factor which is responsible for discouraging foreign investment and that needs to be improved.
The fragile law and order has forced foreign companies and donor agencies to hold even their regular meetings with the FBR and other federal financial institutions in Dubai.
People are pushed against the wall by hyper inflation and shortage of basic consumer goods Moreover, worst power outages and intractable law and order have made their lives extremely miserable.
I the government concentrate more on good governance and also bring the law and order situation under control, there will be no need to be afraid of the media.
S. SHAHNAWAZ SHAH