ISLAMABAD: Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage while briefing the Standing Committee of the National Assembly on Information and Broadcasting in regards to the new film and cultural policy said that it would be made part of the Finance Bill 2018.
She told the committee that the policy envisaged a number of incentives for the revival and development of the film industry including: exemption from sales tax on the film making equipment for ten years; establishment of Finance Fund from which loans up to 50 million rupees would be given for the production of films of international standard and construction of cinema houses; establishment of Artists Assistance Fund; setting up of film academy and re-organization of the Film Directorate.
She said that the cinemas having 350 seats for the audience would also be exempted from paying income tax. She said that by ensuring complete implementation of the new film and cultural policy Pakistan could end Indian monopoly on the cinema in the region.
Marriyum said that the film makers would be provided unhindered access to the beautiful and scenic places and the foreign film makers opting to shoot 70% of their film in Pakistan and 30% in their own countries would be able to avail tax rebates and other incentives. She told the committee that the ministry of Information and Broadcasting had made relentless and dedicated efforts during the last eight months to formulate the first ever film and cultural policy of the country for which the team of the ministry deserved unqualified gratitude.
The minister said that in the ’60s Pakistan film industry was ranked among the top most industries of the world and the country also had a positive image among the global community. She said that the people of Pakistan also had strong connectivity with their culture and heritage.
Marriyum pointed out that in the 80’s and 90’s the film industry experienced an unprecedented decline to the extent that only two to three films were produced during a year and in 2007 only one film was rolled out.
The minister said that the terrorism during the last 35 years had badly affected the film industry. She said that the cinema houses were converted into shopping plazas and brought under other commercial uses and the playfields of the country also presented a deserted look.
Pakistan remained out of screen tourism during the last 35 years and the international community looked at Pakistan through the prism of terrorism, she added.
She observed that due to the steps taken in consonance with the vision of the former Prime Minister and the sacrifices rendered by the people, armed forces and law enforcing agencies, the law and order situation in the country had been normalized, hustle and bustle of the playground had returned and films and music were also witnessing their revival.
The minister said that the country also had to win the perception war adding that the foreign delegations and dignitaries visiting Pakistan were now duly acknowledging that they found the country entirely different from what they had heard about it and Pakistan was a safe and peaceful country.
The minister said that there was a time when no foreigner wanted his transfer to Pakistan, but now whoever was transferred here wished to stay longer and also called their families to join them.
Marriyum told the committee that Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar had used broadcasting and cinema to promote tourism in their countries. She revealed that the Saudi government had asked its ministry of culture to set up 2000 cinemas in the country. She said unfortunately this medium could not be used for that purpose in Pakistan during the last three decades.
She said that after 19 years a Pakistan film titled ‘Mein Punjab Naheen Jaoon Gi’ did record business as against the Indian movies and Pakistani Punjabi films had been a hit. She also informed the committee that Pakistan and China for the first time had signed an agreement on Executive Cultural Programme.
Marriyum said that Pakistan would participate in the film festivals in Beijing and Shanghai and Pakistani films would be screened at the Chinese cinemas. She said both the countries were also working on a number of joint ventures in the domain of films and culture. The minister said that under the 18th amendment the subject of culture had been devolved to the provinces. She said that they had found a direction and could replicate the federal film and cultural policy.
The minister said that Pakistani films and dramas were not shown on the Indian screens and as such there should also be a ban on showing Indian content on the Pakistani screens. She said it was therefore incumbent upon the media to strictly observe the quota specified for the foreign content.
The committee meeting, presided by its chairman Aslam Bodla, was attended by its members, Secretary Information Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera and officials of the Ministry of Information. The chairman of the committee and its members thanked the minister of state and the ministry of information for the cooperation extended to it during 2013-18.