ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will formally launch a health insurance card scheme for working journalists across the country on August 7, 2023.
Speaking at a news conference to launch the registration process of working journalists for the health insurance scheme on Monday, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said that working journalists can apply for the scheme by filling out an online registration form available on the websites of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Press Information Department (PID).
She said the process of registration was very transparent and there was no restriction of the sort that only members of press clubs could apply for the scheme.
She asked the working journalists and media workers to start filling out the form, adding that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif would formally launch the health insurance scheme for journalists on August 7, 2023. She said the scheme was not confined to the journalists of the federal capital territory but also to other parts of the country as well.
Under the health insurance scheme, she added the working journalists would be able to access treatment for various ailments, adding that on the direction of the prime minister an amount of Rs1 billion had been earmarked in the budget for the health insurance scheme.
She added that the health insurance and salaries of journalists had always been an issue in Pakistan, adding that during the past 14 months, Rs110 million had been recovered from the platform of the Implementation Tribunal for Newspaper Employees (ITNE) and direct payments had been made to the employees in print media.
The minister said the government had taken steps for the protection of the rights of working journalists. She said health insurance for working journalists and artists was the vision of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
She said Nawaz Sharif had launched the health card scheme in 2013 which continued in the PTI’s government under the changed name.
Rejecting the criticism of the PEMRA Amendment Bill as “propaganda”, she maintained that it was in line with the definition of the UN Human Rights Council and prepared keeping in view the best international practices.
She said all stakeholders were involved in the process of preparation of PEMRA (Amendment) Bill 2023 and no one opposed the bill or issued any adverse statement. She said the Pakistan Broadcasters Association had issued a statement regarding the PEMRA (Amendment) Bill.
Responding to a question, she said that her ministry had cancelled the licences of more than 150 dummy newspapers.
To another question, she said that a journalist who was benefiting from the Prime Minister Health Card Scheme would not be eligible for the Journalists’ Health Insurance Scheme, adding that both were separate things.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023