PTV, Wapda fight it out over billing fees
By: Abdul Sattar Khan
LAHORE: The row between the Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has widened and the two corporate entities have failed to reach a consensus over collection of TV license fees through electricity bills, documents pertaining to this issue have revealed.
The Prime Minister’s Secretariat and Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet have already shown helplessness to resolve this issue as the ECC was of the considered opinion that it was an agreement between the two corporate entities and they have to decide the issue on their own.
When contacted the official spokesman of Wapda Rana Abid referred this scribe to Col. Rana Sajjad, official spokesman of National Transmission & Dispatch Company (NTDS) who expressed his inability to arrange the version on the issue.
Similarly, Director Finance PTV Qadir Falat while talking to The News claimed that there was and there is no dispute with the Wapda on this issue.According to official documents, the PTV argues that the Wapda was paying just 1% of their billing amount as collection charges to the banks, however it has been charging at Rs5 per bill as collection charges on PTV license fee, which is unjustified.
Even some distribution companies were not charging any penny over the collection of such tariffs, citing example of Pepco, which is not charging any amount on collection of General Sales Tax (GST) through electricity bills. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has proposed that the Pepco/Wapda may be directed to charge reduced television collection fee @ Rs1.50 per bill. The PTV had raised this issue when entering into an agreement with the Wapda, however it was not settled at the time of signing of the agreement. This is what encourages the Wapda to continue with collection of the existing charges as it has categorically rejected the demand of reducing collection charges, saying that the PTV license fee is being collected pursuant to the agreement.
“The agreement between the two corporate entities could only be reconsidered after the approval of their respective Board of Directors,” as per the meeting minutes of ECC. The Wapda claimed that DISCOs were paying Rs8 per electricity bill to the banks as collection charges.
The documents says that the Wapda is of the view that since PTV has increased the license fee and this increase should have been indexed with the collection charges and suggested that if PTV is not comfortable it could have their own collection system. While on the other hand the PTV has maintained that “If PTV Corporation is not comfortable with the service charges being paid to distribution companies (DISCOs), Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has complete autonomy to have their own collection system or outsource to any other agency.”
It is pertinent to mention here that the PTV had brought the matter of reduction of collection charges into the notice of PM Secretariat which referred it to the ECC. The finance division also showed haplessness as it was of the view that since the agreement was signed between the two corporate entities; therefore, it is more appropriate that they may negotiate with the Distribution Companies on the issue of charges.