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GoM meets to decide Prasar Bharati's future

The three-hour meeting of the GoM was headed by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Oct 29, 2006 17:19 IST

A financial package for its employees, hiring professionals from the market, tax exemption on public broadcasting duties and waiving-off losses, are some of the proposals being considered by the Group of Ministers to infuse life back in Prasar Bharati Corporation.

In the three hour meeting, the GoM headed by Home Minister Shivraj Patil, has reached a consensus on formulating service conditions and pay structure for its employees in consultation with the Ministry of Finance.

A group of Prasar Bharati (PB) employees has represented their case before the GoM on August 25.

The GoM has also suggested that I&B ministry should conduct a study on manpower requirement of the corporation and then offer a financial package to employees to join PB on permanent basis.

At present, the status of employment of PB employees is not clear, whether they are Government of India employees or the corporation employees.

On the issue of complete autonomy, the GoM has made it clear that the government wanted a channel to convey its initiatives to the public and 'create a positive atmosphere' in the country. But, the GOM is not adverse to bringing in professionals from outside to improve the quality of broadcasting in the new competitive environment, said a senior ministry official.

The biggest achievement of the GOM is, however,making the Finance Ministry write off Rs 3,735 crore against revenue deficits.

The Finance Ministry has also proposed to convert the loans of Rs 4,876 crores into equity and reserves. But, the Finance Secretary made it clear that PB should prepare a clear-cut mandate and road map to prevent recurrence of such losses.

Before waiving the losses, the Finance ministry has sought a clear mandate for PB from the GoM—whether it is a public broadcaster supported by the government or it is a financial viable corporation.

Union Culture minister Ambika Soni suggested that the corporation should work to improve its financial viability.

The finance ministry has, however, not accepted the proposal to restore section 22 of Prasar Bharati Act, which allows the corporation to seek tax waiver on income/assets and its services.

The GoM has asked Munshi to recommend specific amendments in the Prasar Bharati Act to implement its decisions.

The ministry is likely to submit its proposal in the next GoM meeting sometime in November

First Published: Oct 29, 2006 17:07 IST