A parliamentary panel Wednesday recommended the government to transfer Pak-China Friendship Centre and Art & Craft Village to the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage met, with Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla in the chair, to discuss a calling attention notice moved by Mir Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani over non-payment of pension to retired employees, which was referred to the standing committee.
The committee directed the Ministry of Information to take up the matter of grant of pensions to the retired employees of the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA) and Lok Virsa with the Ministry of Finance and report back to the committee within one month.
The executive director Lok Virsa briefed the committee that pension scheme for retired employees of Lok Virsa had been initiated in 1997 but discontinued in 2014.
She further informed that the scheme was discontinued due to exhaustion of funds, since a large number of senior employees were retired and granted pension and pensionary benefits/commutation at the rate of pension admissible to the civil servants.
She informed that the pension to the retired employees had not been discontinued and was being paid at the rate approved by Lok Virsa board of governors.
She informed that some of the employees approached court, asking for pension at the rate of pension granted to the civil servants, which is still pending for decision. She informed that employees of the Lok Virsa were entitled to medical facilities and provision of house building advance.
The director general PNCA apprised the committee that the PNCA had taken up the matter of grant of pensions to the retired employees with the Ministry of Finance through Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage and the case is pending with the Ministry of Finance for decision. He informed the committee that the PNCA had enough resources to grant pensionary benefits to its employees subject to approval by the Ministry of Finance.
The committee decided to discuss the issue in its next meeting with the direction to Lok Virsa and the PNCA to pursue the matter with the Ministry of Finance. The committee also directed management of the both organisations to explore possible venues of funds generation to fulfil their mandate, instead of relying on the government grant.
The committee also asked the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage to invigorate the Artist Welfare Fund for extending financial assistance to the destitute artists. The committee also recommended to the government for transferring of Pak-China Friendship Centre and Art and Craft Village to the PNCA.
The meeting was attended by Malik Shakir Bashir Awan, Muhammad Talal Chaudhry, Mian Muhammad Farooq, Waseem Akhtar Shaikh, Parveen Masood Bhatti, Arifa Khalid Parvez, Chaudhry Muhammad Tufail, Murad Saeed, Dr Muhammad Azhar Khan Jadoon, Naeema Kishwer Khan, secretary Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, executive director Lok Virsa, director general PNCA and other senior officers of the relevant departments.