Higher education professors and researchers have come out strongly condemning the government’s decision to withdraw the 75 per cent tax exemption on salaries they were previously given.
Pakistan Academy of Sciences (PAS) and International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) professors in separate press conferences and a consortium meeting respectively warned of a series of protests if the government did not reverse their decision.
“On one hand, the government continues to stress on the importance of quality education and research in universities, while on the other hand it is dissuading talented Pakistanis living overseas to join domestic institutions,” said PAS Secretary General Dr Anwar Nasim.
The Federal Board of Revenue, in light of the new Finance Bill 2013-14, withdrew five major income tax exemptions to generate additional revenue.
The withdrawals included one on a 75 per cent tax exemption on the salaries of professional teachers and researchers at accredited institutes.
“By adopting such measures, it will be difficult for the country to retain quality teachers and researchers. The anticipated brain drain will seriously hamper scientific output and warrants a critical review,” said PAS Vice-President Dr MD Shami.
Shami requested the finance minister to take back this decision keeping in mind the Pakistan Muslim League — Nawaz’s strong emphasis on education and research in its manifesto.
Dr MN Butt, a PAS official, said that the tax incentives were offered a decade ago to promote the quality of teaching and research in Pakistan. “It helped attract Pakistani academicians living abroad to Pakistan,” he said.
Former Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU) professor Dr Asghari Maqsood said the government’s decision would have far reaching implications for the higher education sector.
“Teachers from private institutions with short-term contracts and no benefits or perks will be the most affected by this decision,” she remarked.
Professors from IIUI, AIOU, QAU, NUML and other universities unanimously decided that they would take all measures to reverse the government’s decision during a consortium meeting at IIUI.
“We have agreed to wait till the Federation of All Pakistan Universities Academic Staff Association (FAPUSA) meeting on Saturday in Lahore,” FAPUSA Islamabad chapter president said while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2013.