Appreciating Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for allocating various financial provisions for the benefit of journalists and media houses in the state, the North East Union of Working Journalists (NEUWJ) appealed to other state governments of the alienated region to come forward and support the media fraternity.

Placing the annual budget in the state legislative assembly on February 7, Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma proposed to launch a pension scheme for scribes and a journalist family welfare fund from 2017-18 onwards.

Pointing out that many journalists dedicated their lives to the public service in the field of journalism and they  need financial security after their retirement, the state finance minister proposed to constitute a journalist pension scheme  in the line of litterateur, artist/artiste and sportspersons’ monthly retirement benefits.

Recognizing the critical role of professional journalism in social advancement, Sarma also proposed for a journalist family welfare fund for providing suitable financial assistance to the bereaved family members of journalists losing their lives while in service due to
various reasons.

The minister also announced a media fellowship of Rs 50,000 to the interested journalists for pursuing higher studies in relevant fields of journalism. The minister added that 20 such fellowships would be awarded in the year 2017-18. Guidelines of the schemes would be prepared by the state information & public relations department.

Sarma asserted that the government has already released around Rs 22 crore till January 31 to clear the huge pending advertisement bills of various media outlets. He said that all efforts will be made to streamline the mechanism for regular payment of advertisement bills.

“Expressing happiness over the proposals, we urge the state information & public relations department to formulate the guidelines properly. We would also like to appeal to the department to include all working journalists – irrespective of IPR recognition – with a few
years of uninterrupted experience in Assam,” said a statement issued by NEUWJ president Joykanta Sarma and secretary Manoj Agasti.

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About Nava Thakuria


Nava Thakuria is a Guwahati-based senior journalist. He has been covering socio-political developments of Northeast India, along with its neighbours – Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar and Bangladesh – for various media outlets, for more than two decades.