Pemra may soon be independent: minister -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pemra may soon be independent: minister

By: Iqtidar Gilani

LAHORE — Stressing upon restructuring and empowering of various regulatory authorities, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan expressed her willingness here on Saturday to free the PEMRA (Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority) from the control of her ministry.

Addressing the participants at a seminar on the topic of “Energy crisis and the role of media”, held at the Hameed Nizami Press Institute of Pakistan organized the seminar, she said the PEMRA, the OGRA (Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority) and the NEPRA (National Electric Power Regulatory Authority) “are working under the control of different ministries which undermines their role as the watchdogs.”

Dr Awan presided over the seminar while CPNE President Khushnood Ali Khan was the chief guest. President Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Tahir Basharat Cheema, Director MEDAS Abdul Qayyum Hajazi and Director Farmers Association Tariq Bucha also addressed the seminar. Absar Abdul Ali played the role of mediator.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that there was a need of institutional restructuring and redefining strength to enable regulatory authorities to work effectively and freely without any interference from ministries.

Referring to the prevailing energy crisis, she asserted that population explosion was the mother of all evils as it widened demand and supply gap. She said that eight births per minute was the main reason behind considerable and gradual increase in demand and supply gap and it was necessary to control population growth.

“Besides energy crises, population growth has created serious challenges including food security and provision of quality education and healthcare facilities in the country. Even Bangladesh has surpassed Pakistan in all sectors by proper planning and population control”, she said, adding, proper and long term planning was required to face the future challenges.

“Lack of proper planning and poor performance of institutions during the last three decades has caused prevailing crises. Previous government should have made plan to fulfill the present energy needs of the country but it did not happen. Moreover, the department failed to reduce line losses that is causing huge loss to the exchequer besides shifting liabilities of few rich to the vast majority of the poor,” she said.

The minister added that the department should reduce line losses to benefit the bill paying poor. She urged media to work for the solution of problems instead of merely highlighting these. She said that the government was planning keeping in view the energy needs for the coming 20 years. She said that Thar Coal Board has been constituted and people would see significant progress in next couple of years.

She said that there was the need to work on the plan of generating electricity from sunlight. Referring to the new exploration of gas reserves, she said that law and order situation was the major hurdle. She said that Pakistan was being portrayed in the west as a terrorist state but actually she is peace loving and rich of natural resources. She said that India was hatching conspiracies against Pakistan since her independence. Khushnood Ali Khan stressed upon constituting Press Council to coordinate and redress complaints of politicians and the government against media. He said that the journalists rendered huge sacrifices in movements for the restoration of democracy and judiciary in the past.

He said that it was pity that those who fought against military rule and attacked Supreme Court were pressing for accepting army and judiciary as stakeholders. Referring to the prevailing political situation, he said that a third party could benefit from the turmoil. Tahir Bashir Cheema said that the country was having maximum solar intensity across the world. He stressed upon exploring new gas reserves and proper use of solar intensity and coal reserves for power generation. Abdul Qayyum Hajazi urged media to create awareness among public about demand and supply gap and responsibility of people.
Source: The Nation
Date:3/13/2011