PECA not yet discussed by Ministry of Information

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told the Senate Standing Committee on Information (SSCI) on Monday that the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Ordinance has yet to be discussed within the ministry.

On a question from the SSCI Chairman, Faisal Javed Khan, who chaired its meeting here, the Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting informed the committee that the PECA had not been discussed in the ministry. The panel requested a compilation of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s speeches from 2018 to date. The committee postponed the consultation on the PECA due to the absence of the Joint Action Committee (JAC).

Senator Faisal argued that there are certain reservations (some of which are valid) from various media about the order and that the department should listen to their outcry. He affirmed that the Prime Minister is a strong supporter of freedom of expression and that he will never restrict the freedom of the media. He called for fruitful consultations on the PECA, adding that while the recommendations of the JAC and the media regarding the PECA are significant, they must be heeded.

Senator Mola Bux Chandio said hearing from all sides on important issues is a good tradition that should be kept alive. The committee chair remarked that fake news must stop, emphasizing the need for consensus to end the culture of fake news. After an initial discussion on the matter, the consultation on the PECA was postponed to the next meeting.

The issue of not compiling the Prime Minister’s speeches (as was the practice in the past) was also discussed at the meeting. Senator Irfan Siddiqui says PM’s speeches compiled in past; why the department has stopped this trend.

For this, the chairman of the committee asked the ministry to compile all the speeches of Prime Minister Imran Khan from 2018 to date. The secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting told the committee that the ministry would ask the press section of the prime minister’s office to provide materials on the speeches and send them back to the committee.

The Ministry Secretary briefed the committee on the budget proposals for the Public Sector Development Program (PSDP) for the fiscal years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. He told the committee that the current PSDP 2021-2022 consists of 15 PSDP projects in total with an allocation of Rs 1899.530 million. A project is funded by the Chinese government for which an allocation of Rs 504.650 million is available in the current development budget. Of the 15 projects, 11 are expected to be completed by the end of June 2022. The remaining four projects, three from Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC) and one foreign-funded from PTVC, will be deferred to the next fiscal year and will be part of next year’s PSDP.

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