As a part of the Government's initiative to streamline the advertisement distribution process and ensure judicious allotment of advertisements to the empanelled newspapers/periodicals, Director Information, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary convened a review meeting at the office of the Joint Director Information Kashmir here today.
Outgoing Joint Director Information Kashmir, Tassaduq Hussain Mir, newly posted Joint Director Information Kashmir, Zahoor Ahmad Mir, Deputy Director Information (PR) Kashmir, Farooq Ahmad Baba and other officers and officials of the Joint Directorate of Information Kashmir were present at the meeting.
Speaking at the meeting, the Director Information emphasized on regular outflow of payments from the Department to the newspapers/periodicals on account of advertisement charges to avoid piling up of liabilities. He said the Directorate of Information has for the current year released Rs 16.83 crore till date to the Joint Directors of Information Kashmir/Jammu for payment of advertisement bills out of the total annual budget of around Rs 30 crore. "We are trying our best to ensure that the newspapers and periodicals are not put to any inconvenience on account of payment of advertisement bills," he said and added that various tangible initiatives have been taken of late to ensure utmost transparency in allotment of advertisements and regular release of payments to the newspapers and periodicals.
"We are putting in place a plan of action for the next fiscal to ensure release of payment on account of advertisements to the newspapers and periodicals on monthly basis," Dr Shahid said adding that as the Government has already released 50% of allotted budget for the financial year 2017-18, it should enable the Department to make the payments to newspapers/periodicals regularly on monthly basis in the next fiscal.
"Ensure that all the previous liabilities of the newspapers/periodicals on account of advertisements are cleared by March ending this year so that we can begin with a clean slate and zero liability for the next fiscal," the Director Information told the officers present at the meeting.
He said the Department is already in the process of putting in place a comprehensive and transparent advertisement distribution mechanism by classifying the empanelled newspapers/periodicals in the different categories, in tune with the guidelines laid down in the Advertisement Policy-2016.
Earlier, briefing the meeting about the status of the liabilities and current payments made in Kashmir division, the Joint Director Information Kashmir said that a total payment of Rs 7.37 crore has been made to the newspapers/periodicals till date during the current fiscal on account of official advertisements. He said the payments include Rs 4.55 crore on account of current year's advertisement bills and Rs 2.82 crore previous liabilities out of the total liability of Rs 8.38 crore as on 31 March 2016. He said in addition, advertisement bills amounting to Rs 3.35 crore have been already verified and are ready for payment while bills amounting to Rs 2.21 crore are under process.
Projecting the demand of funds to clear all the payments by March ending 2017on account of advertisement bills including current and previous liabilities, the Joint Director Information said that additional Rs 5.55 crore are required for clearing the previous liabilities while for clearing current year's bills the requirement of funds will be to the tune of additional Rs 5.36 crore.
Pertinently, the Department of Information and Public Relations is in the process of updating the details of empanelled newspapers and periodicals for classification and rationalisation of advertisement distribution in light of the Advertisement Policy-2016.
The Department has already asked all the empanelled newspapers and periodicals to provide updated details including latest circulation figures for updating the records.
The exercise is part of the initiative taken by the Department, in consultation with various journalists and Editors 'forums, to streamline and rationalize the distribution of official advertisements among the approved newspapers and periodicals and make the process completely transparent.
Pertinently, 368 newspapers and periodicals, including 201 in Jammu and 167 in Kashmir, are presently empanelled with the Department of Information for release of official advertisements.
The Department has an annual advertisement budget of around Rs 30 crore which is expected to go up to Rs 45 crore during the next fiscal, following a sizeable 50% hike in the advertisement rates for newspapers and periodicals announced by the Chief Minister recently.