Billions yet to be released for schools

NSB allows schools to independently make small purchases and ensure maintenance

Ammar Sheikh May 26, 2018

LAHORE: The remaining installments of the non-salary budget (NSB) have not reached schools on the reportedy ‘unofficial’ instructions of the Punjab Finance Department, The Express Tribune has learnt.

The Punjab School Education Department (SED) had transferred the last two quarterly payments of the NSB funds hastily within the span of a month – between March and April, to Special Drawing Accounts (SDAs) which are operated by the District Education Authorities’ (DEAs) chief executive officers in all 36 districts of Punjab. The last two installments of the NSB funds, each of Rs3.5 billion, for Fiscal Year 2017-18, are yet to be transferred to the schools.

Out of the four quarters of the financial year, the schools have only been able to receive two installments (or 50%) of the allocated NSB funds. The SED, in the meanwhile, expressing concern over the delay, had asked the CEOs to transfer the funds by May 24. However, the funds have not been transferred to the schools.

A senior official, requesting anonymity, said, “The Punjab Finance Department has unofficially asked the CEOs not to release the funds to schools and delay it as there was an issue of cash cover.” The delay has been observed despite a letter by the SED to CEOs, asking them to release the funds.

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“It has been observed by the authority, with great concern, that the districts have not transferred the NSB to the schools yet. This will cause a great lapse in the development of schools. All CEOs of DEAs are requested to ensure transfer of this amount by May 24, 2018, and also provide a certificate duly signed by CEO (DEA). It should state that the NSB amount has been completely transferred to the schools. In case of any deficiency, CEOs will be personally held responsible for this delay”.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Punjab Teachers’ Union (PTU) General Secretary Rana Liaquat Ali said many of the projects were pending in schools because of the delay in transfer. “Lack of funds has further increased problems for schoolteachers because of the elections as we have been told to provide missing facilities, as identified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), he said.”

“On the other hand, there are instructions by the SED to schools to provide facilities that are missing in their schools before the end of the summer vacations. How can schools fulfil this demand without funds? At the same time, head teachers will be held responsible and punished for not following orders and not providing missing facilities,” he remarked.

The NSB fund is meant to allow schools to independently make small purchases, repairs and continue maintenance. It also provides for improvement of infrastructure and the hiring of part-time staff. It is distributed based on a set formula that has been devised to pay the funds to all primary, elementary, high and higher secondary schools in each district. The funds were to be distributed quarterly and the NSB funds were divided into instalments of Rs3.5 billion for each quarter. As per the budgetary allocation for the fiscal year 2017-18, the Punjab government allocated Rs14 billion for the NSB.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2018.


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