Islamabad - The Prime Minister, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has approved substantial increase in budget for the welfare of writers and poets in the country.

Giving details about the development, Advisor to the Prime Minister on National History and Literary Heritage, Irfan Siddiqui Friday informed that the new package for the literary people would be applicable from next financial year.

It is pertinent to mention here that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at the inaugural session of the 4th ‘International Writers Conference’ held in Islamabad last month, had announced various steps regarding the welfare of poets, intellectuals and writers. Siddiqui informed that the Prime Minister has accorded approval for the provision of additional resources to implement these steps and amount would be allocated in the next budget for this purpose.

He said life insurance scheme for writers has been extended from 354 to 700 individuals and from the next financial year 700 writers would benefit from this facility. Family of a writer received Rs 0.1 million in case of his natural death and Rs 0.2 million in case of accidental death, however after the approval of PM, the amount has been enhanced in these two categories, from 0.1 million to 0.2 million on natural death and Rs. 0.2 million to 0.4 million on accidental death respectively.

Advisor to PM said the number of deserving writers, who benefit from the financial assistance on monthly basis, has also been increased. “Previously 500 writers were benefitting from the scheme and were drawing Rs 5000 monthly. From the next financial year 1000 deserving writers would start receiving Rs 13 thousand per month,” Irfan Siddiqui explained. The advisor informed that 20 awards would be given on books written in national as well as regional languages annually through Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL).

Some 11 such awards were being given previously, however, number of these awards has been extended in order to facilitate and encourage new authors including women and youth.

Prime Minister has also given formal approval of Intizar Hussain Award, which would be awarded each year with a Rs 1 million cash prize, in the name of great novelist and fiction writer of Pakistan Intizar Hussain, who died last year.

Irfan Siddiqui welcomed the approval by the PM and expressed hope that such steps would encourage writers and intellectuals for their literary endeavours in future but also lead towards promotion of literary activities in the country.