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Govt plans media blitz to sell reforms
P Vaidyanathan Iyer in New Delhi | June 14, 2003 13:08 IST
A year ahead of general elections, the government is planning a media blitz to sell economic reforms to the people.
A concept paper on publicising reforms and their beneficial impact on the common man was recently discussed in the finance ministry.
Senior government sources said a committee headed by S Narayan, former finance secretary and now secretary in the Prime Minister's Office, had been entrusted with the job of drawing the broad contours of the media package.
Other members of the committee include Chief Economic Adviser Ashok Lahiri, Planning Commission Secretary N K Sinha and other senior officials in the PMO and the ministry of information and broadcasting.
Given the political mileage it will derive, funding the multi-media campaign spanning radio, television and print will not be a problem.
While the state-owned All India Radio and Doordarshan will be roped in for selling reforms through their wide networks and coverage, the finance ministry is not averse to buying primetime slots in private channels as well.
The sources said controversial and unpopular economic issues like liberalisation in foreign direct investment and the proposed implementation of the value-added tax would be packaged to portray their impact on the ruling alliance's constituencies in the right perspective.
However, senior bureaucrats and the government will not be involved in the creative part of the media campaign. It will be left to advertising agencies and media firms to produce audio and video capsules which will be played till before the general elections.
A few months ago, when the government faced adverse reactions to the proposed implementation of VAT, the finance ministry invited about a dozen advertising firms to showcase capsules on the tax to delineate its positive impact on the economy.
While the fate of the VAT capsules is still undecided, the ministry is putting together plans for a major blitz krieg encompassing all aspects of reforms undertaken in the past four years.
The committee will now see a new chairman in D C Gupta, who was designated finance secretary earlier this week. But Narayan's elevation to the PMO as its secretary will ensure that the media campaign sees the light of the day.
A punchline was all that was needed to complete the plan, a source pointed out.