By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Feb 7: Assam Fince Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has streamlined the mechanism of making payment of bills against advertisements in newspapers for prompt payment to media houses.
“…during the last few months, we have released about Rs. 22 crore till January 31, 2017 to clear the huge pending bills lying unsettled from the past. We have now made an obligatory ceiling system for this purpose to release Rs. 1.4 crore every month without going through normal ceiling procedures. This has yielded good results and as on today except a few running bills, no amount is pending with the I&PR Department,” Sarma said.
Sarma further said: “We also feel responsible to the families of jourlists who may lose their lives while in service due to various reasons. In recognition of the profession of jourlism and its critical role in social advancement, I propose to constitute ‘Jourlist Family Benefit Fund’ for providing suitable fincial assistance to the bereaved family members of such jourlists. Detailed guidelines of the scheme will be prepared by the Information and Public Relation Department, and I have made adequate budget provision for this purpose.”
Sarma further said that the State Government is happy to announce that media fellowship of Rs. 50,000 to some select jourlists for pursuing higher studies in the relevant field of jourlism. “In 2017-18, 20 such fellowships will be awarded. Information & Public Relation Department will issue necessary guidelines in this regard. I have made adequate budgetary provision for this urpose,” he said, and added: “Many respected jourlists, who have dedicated their lives to the public service in the field of jourlism, may need fincial security after retiring from the profession. In view of above, you will be delighted to know that Jourlists’ Pension will be introduced for this purpose on the lines of ‘literary, artists and sports’ pension from 2017-18 onwards.”
The Assam Press Correspondents’ Union (APCU) has welcomed the pension benefits, media fellowship, jourlist family welfare fund and the streamlined payment against advertisements in newspapers. An APCU team submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through his media adviser Hrishikesh Goswami in December last. The union said that the media fellowship scheme is set to benefit jourlists and boost the quality of jourlism in the State.