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Artistes urge fair use of welfare fund.

Byline: Qaiser Iftikhar

LAHORE -- Welcoming an increase in the allocation for the Artists Welfare Fund to Rs1 billion in the coming year's budget, senior actors have called for its utilisation through a transparent mechanism.

While many other sectors appear dissatisfied with the budget for the financial year 2020-21, the allocation for the Artist Welfare Fund set up for the showbiz industry has been increased from Rs750 million to Rs1 billion.

Senior actor Khalid Abbas Dar thanked President Dr Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan for increasing the fund. Talking to The Express Tribune, he said the prime minister had taken a big step for the entertainment industry.

He said now it was necessary to devise a transparent mechanism for the distribution of the fund. 'It should not be called aid because an artist is an asset of the country and the nation and protecting the assets is the first responsibility of the government,' he said. He said that 35 years ago some concessions were announced for the artists but the officials concerned had given benefit to their favourites instead of deserving artists.

On the other hand, the way some elements linked with art and culture had protested recently while carrying bread was also not correct, Dar added. 'An artist is very sensitive and such an action hurts his self-esteem.'

He expressed the hope that the government's initiative in such a difficult situation would have positive results.

Senior actor Ghulam Mohiuddin also welcomed the increase in the allocation for the Artists Welfare Fund. He said it should be ensured that the deserving artists would receive financial support from the fund.

He said the government should form a committee to distribute the funds among deserving artists. The committee should include government officials as well as film and television personalities.

He said the president was well aware of the problems of the artists.

He said the artists had been continuously ignored in the past. 'Therefore, we want to ensure that the deserving artists benefit from this initiative.' The committee should include artists along with bureaucrats so that their interest might be protected, he said.

He pointed out that the novel coronavirus pandemic had halted all showbiz activities. In such a situation, the artists will be supported from the Artists Welfare Fund, which was very important,' he said.

Meanwhile, art activities have resumed in the city with an online exhibition at the Lahore Arts Council.

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Author:Qaiser Iftikhar
Publication:The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Jun 20, 2020
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