Financial crisis worsens: APNS urges government to extend bailout package
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information has assured the APNS that the federal government is committed to freedom of press and address the problems faced by the newspaper industry.
Firdous visited the APNS House and held a meeting with the APNS members wherein she was apprised on the acute financial crisis faced by the newspaper industry for last two years. Hameed Haroon, President APNS and Sarmad Ali, Secretary General briefly stated that due to considerable decline in the quantum of advertising in newspapers, non-payment of long pending dues against the federal and provincial governments, decrease in the private sector advertising due to economic slowdown and increase in the cost of newspaper imports caused by depreciation of Pak rupee, the newspaper industry is facing hardships and financial crunch. They emphasized that the federal government should help the industry through a bailout package and expedite payment of outstanding dues as well as increase the quantum of advertisements to APNS member publications. The APNS office-bearers pointed out that the government advertising rates were increased by 50 percent during last 18 years whereas the inflation as per CPI was registered over 200 percent. They demanded that the government advertisement rates be enhanced to match the increase in the Consumer Price Index. The APNS members present in the meeting, pointed out that the regional quota in the government advertising was not being implemented in letter and spirit for newspapers based in Sindh, especially the language newspapers were not being released their due share.
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan informed the APNS that the federal government has given top priority to clear the outstanding dues and has made a substantial payment of the reconciled dues whereas the remaining amount will be cleared next month. She agreed in principle that the government advertising rates should be increased to ensure economic viability of newspaper industry.
The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister stated that a meeting of the APNS office-bearers at Islamabad with the Ministry of Information will be convened shortly to discuss draft advertising policy and sort out the issues amicably.-PR