New Delhi: Responding to media reports that the Centre is withholding funds to Prasar Bharti since December last year for the latter's alleged defiance to some of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry directives, the government on Friday said that the funds were being withheld as the public broadcaster was not abiding by the rules.
The government described that media report as “defamatory and sinister” which alleged that the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has withheld funds earmarked for Prasar Bharati after the latter refused to pay nearly Rs 3 crore as fees to a private firm.
Earlier, an English news website had reported that over Prasar Bharati's refusal to pay nearly Rs 3 crore as fees to a Mumbai-based private company, I&B Minister Smriti Irani has ordered withholding of funds meant to pay the salaries of Prasar Bharti's employees.
The Prasar Bharti is an autonomous body that functions under the aegis of I&B Ministry.
The I&B ministry termed the reports as "sinister, motivated campaign" and said that the "misinformation" was based on "half-baked facts".
"Fiscal prudence and accountability is the very fulcrum of the functioning of any government organisation. Prasar Bharti is as much bound by the General Financial Rules (GFR) of the government of India as any Ministry or any organisation receiving grants-in-aid from the government," the Ministry.
"As per the provision of GFR, any autonomous organisation receiving grant-in-aid must sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry, clearly bringing out the physical and financial targets with timelines for activities to be done by utilising the said grant during that financial year.
"For the record, irrespective of repeated reminders from the Ministry, no MoU has been signed by Prasar Bharti," it said.
The I&B ministry further added that it remained "committed to protect the interest of all Prasar Bharti employees".
(With agency inputs)