Print media hails PM’s order for dues clearance
ISLAMABAD: Appreciating Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilnai’s special instructions to clear outstanding dues of the advertising agencies, print media stalwarts have underlined need for immediate implementation of the orders.
Key figures of the newspaper industry while talking to Online Friday said that any more delays in release of approved payments to the advertisement agencies would be disastrous. Financial crunch in the advertisement business, especially in the print media, would hardly allow ad agencies to last long, let alone their payments to the newspapers that they are supposed to be cleared in 90 days.
“It has been in practice in the government for decades that payments to the advertisement agencies get delayed for years,” said Mujeed-ur-Rehman Shami who was President All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) when it took up ad agencies’ outstanding of eight years with the government in 2008.
“Prime Minister Gilani was kind enough to understand that ad agencies bills duly approved and received by the Press Information Department (PID) spanning over 2000 to 2008 should be cleared,” he said. “For the clearance of the print media funds the Prime Minister approved a grant of about Rs 900 million, and instructed release of payments according to the rules,” he added. The granted funds kept on lapsing till June 30, 2010, as the government departments including the PID had lost some of the records, he further said.
According to Secretary General APNS Syed Sarmad Ali, initially the ad agencies claims were reduced to a figure around Rs 700 million after excluding the electronic media bills. Partial payments were released during the 2009, 2010 and claims of ad agencies relating to the print media further squeezed down to Rs 500 million. Finally, a 2-member committee including President APNS and Secretary Information reached to conclusion that those bills would be cleared, which were duly received by the PID after verification of their approval.
It was decided that the bills would be cleared that were accompanied by Department Release Orders (DROs), original invoice of the agencies, listing names of the newspapers, size of the advertisement and date of insertion. APNS pointed out that the smaller newspapers were unable to reproduce the record that they once submitted and were misplaced in the government channels.
Therefore, the Prime Minister had approved the recommendations of the two-member committee that the bills having receiving of the PID and the DRO would be cleared immediately. Prime Minister had approved a grant of Rs460 million grant out of which advertising agencies’ claims worth Rs350 million could be declared as ‘clear.’ Ad agencies’ claims worth Rs 350 million were cleared by this two-member committee.
The Prime Minister, he said, also kindly intervened to save the newspaper industry, especially the smaller ones, and instructed to clear the outstanding dues spanning over eight years as special case on the basis of the receiving acknowledgements by the PID.
“PM’s orders that were entirely according to the rules, but the print industry dependent of the ad agencies would be in trouble with any more delays in clearance of these dues,” he maintained.
Earlier Senior Vice President APNS Mehtab Khan also appealed to the government for earliest implementation of the Prime Minister’s orders to clear the default on part of the government. “Newspapers industry as well as advertisement agencies were already passing through difficult times in terms of the struggling economies, and clearance of outstanding dues by the government could as serve as their savior,” he added.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Orient Advertising Mehmood Hashmi also requested to the government to move quickly as per the Prime Minister’s instructions so as to save the dying advertisement industry and in-turn protecting the print media industry also in danger.
He told Online that out of over 70 accredited advertising agencies over 20 are already gone out of business chiefly due to non-payment of outstanding dues mainly from the government side. Contraction in business does not allow the agencies to maintain their cycle of business with sizeable dues stuck up with the government. “In the days of financial crunch how could agencies pay to the newspapers without getting their payments in time from the government,” he asked a question. “I read the news in a section of press that some undue payments were made by the PID. I am surprised that we are yet to get our overdue payments stuck since the 2000,” he added.
Source: The News