LAHORE, Jan 16 (APP): Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ch Fawad Hussain has urged the Sindh government to adopt Prime Minister Imran Khan’s National Health Card programme for effective provision of health facilities to all and sundry.
Speaking during ‘Meet the Press’ programme at the Lahore Press Club here on Sunday, he said the National Health Card programme would incur half the amount Sindh government is currently spending on provision of health facilities, adding that a huge sum of funds is spent on construction of hospital buildings only while a medical superintendent is hired for millions of rupees by the Sindh government.
He said this amount should be spent on medical treatment in a better way by introducing National Health Card.
The information minister said the health card covers a health insurance of one million rupees of a family at private and public sector hospitals, adding that it is tracked through National Identity Card (NIC) and it will take care of all hospitalization expenses of journalists.
He said journalists should stay assured that their health needs have been taken care of by the government.
“The National Health Card will benefit the middle-class and the white-collared persons the most,” he said, adding that the rich would hardly need it as they get medical treatment from abroad.
To a query, the minister said the private sector hospitals were vital for provision of healthcare facilities; otherwise, health facilities could not be provided by the public sector hospitals alone to such a large population. He invited the private sector to invest in the health sector so that medical facilities could be provided to maximum number pf people.
Stressing the need for keeping pace with time, Fawad Ch asked the print media industry to adopt digitalisation as the world was fast changing, adding that the 5G technology would further revolutionise the world and the print media needed to adopt new technologies so that it did not suffer losses.
He said that Rs 12 billion advertisement had been shifted from the traditional print media to the digital media during the past year. He renewed a pledge to provide Rs 5 lakh loan to the digital media journalists on the recommendation of the press clubs.
The information minister also announced setting up of a modern digital media lab at Lahore Press Club so that journalist could make the best out of it.
The information minister said that journalists might also benefit from the Prime Minsiter’s Low- Income Housing Scheme, adding all members of press clubs could avail soft loans to build a home of their own in Prime Minsiter’s schemes.
To a question about no increase in salaries of media workers for the last seven years, Fawad said the businesses had earned Rs 929 billion in profit on the stock exchange last year, adding that the profits of media houses grew by 30-40 per cent but the media workers did not benefit from these profits as their salaries were not increased.
He urged owners of the media house that the trickle down effects of their boon should be shifted to the workers as well.
Stressing the need for a serious political debate in the country’s media, he said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was almost forced to resign after his office violated the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions while the public was made to follow the law, adding that, in our country, one section of media had published an article by former finance minister Ishaq Dar who had fled the country after embezzling billions of rupees of the public.
He said how come a person, who wreaked havoc on the country’s economy, could give lectures on the economy.
On the issue of Nawaz Sharif’s return to the country to face courts, he said that people like Nawaz Sharif must return to the country as they were responsible for the financial mess the country was in.
He said the Nawaz Sharif issue was directly linked to price-hikes, adding that the country, from 1947 to 2008, took loans of seven trillion rupees and all projects including the motorways, nuclear plants, dams, airports, cities like Islamabad and Gwadar were completed between this period. But $23 billion loans were secured from 2008 to 2018 period.
He said Nawaz Sharif and others must be brought back to the country and made accountable for their misdeeds.
Stressing quality of debate, the information minister said the media had highlighted the Pervaiz Khattak and Hammad Azhar differences on gas without discussing the core issue which was non-availability of gas schemes due to circular debt of Rs 157 billion, amassed by the PML-N government with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the petroleum minister.
He said the PPP government, during its tenure between 2008 and 2013, took the right decision and did not allow gas expansion schemes and the it left zero circular debt in the petroleum ministry.
He said Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as petroleum minister allowed expansion schemes in the vested interests which swelled the circular debt to Rs 157 billion and that was why Energy Minister Hammad Azhar could not allow gas schemes, as desired by Pervaiz Khattak.
About the challenges faced by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government prior to the next general elections, Fawad said Pakistan has a bright future, adding that there are 1100 seats to be contested and the PTI is the only party which has candidates for all seats while no other party has the candidates.
He said the PPP had become an interior Sindh party, while the PML-N was now merely a central Punjab party.
Fawad said the PTI would emerge successful in the next general elections and rule the country for another five years.
He said that farmers had become prosperous under the PTI government and Rs 1100 billion had been earned by them during the previous season, adding that the country’s economy had experienced a growth of 5 per cent. He said the salaried person were in trouble and their problems could not be overcome unless the private sector played its role.
About delay in the appointment of the Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees (ITNE) member, he said the appointment would be made within a month, adding that the government wanted to give a wider scope to the ITNE in the Pakistan Media Development Authority (PMDA) bill, but it could not get through due to opposition from certain sections.
On stopping advertisements to the media houses for non-payment of salaries to workers, the minister said the government abides by the law and the bill tabled by the PTI government in this regard was opposed by the PPP and PML-N, adding that the media workers must ask these political parties to support the government in the passage of bill.
To a question, he said the opposition parties were victim of mistrust within, while there is a race for power in the PML-N ranks, adding that the four leaders of the PML-N, in a recent meeting, presented themselves for leadership role if Nawaz Sharif was not acceptable.
On Gwadar, he said the government is spending Rs 700 billion on development of Gwadar, adding that no government had so far announced such a huge development package for Balochistan. He said a new mechanism is being devised and the situation will be different in Gwadar in six months time.
Earlier, the information minister distributed National Health Cards among the Lahore Press Club members to kick-start the distribution of health cards among journalists.
President Lahore Press Club Azam Chaudhry also presented a memento to Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry who is honorary life-member of the club.