Education budget cuts: No hope of HEC receiving outstanding funds

Finance division says commission will not receive an outstanding Rs9 billion from last fiscal’s allocation.


Peer Muhammad July 30, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


Funds worth Rs9 billion from last year’s budget allocation, which the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has been clamouring for, can be given up on.


The finance division made it clear that the allocation, which was supposed to be released in March 2012 for both recurring and development expenditures of the HEC, will not be provided to the commission.

“Despite repeated reminders and frequent meetings with the finance division, we have failed to motivate it to release our funds, which are crucial to meet at least the recurring expenditures of universities,” said a senior HEC official.

Finance division spokesperson Raja Asad Amin said that the HEC should concentrate on receiving funds allocated during the current fiscal year rather than demanding the previous year’s allocations, adding that these funds automatically lapsed with that fiscal year.

“Those were just allocations, not a commitment – the finance division has no concern as to how the HEC adjusts its expenditures for the previous year,” Amin stated categorically. He added that the HEC should have incomes sources other than the federal government’s grant in order to meet the growing expenses of universities. “It’s not just the HEC which has received less than was allocated, but other departments as well,” he insisted.

The HEC official, however, is unconcerned with other departments. Explaining that the commission had taken out loans from banks in order to pay for day to day affairs including salaries, the official said the commission would soon be in a lot of trouble while trying to manage its debts.

Without the Rs9 billion

Out of the Rs9 billion funds which remain outstanding, around Rs4.6 billion is supposed to be used for paying the salaries of different universities’ staff as well as for payment to foreign and local scholarship holders who number around 10,000.

Foreign scholars in particular have been left in the lurch as a result of the held back allocation. “We are continuously receiving messages from them. Some of them even threaten to take us to court because we signed agreements with them (promising) to support them without a break through the course of their education,” the worried HEC official added.

In addition, unreleased funds were to be used for newly established universities which have no source of income besides HEC grants. The survival of these educational institutions, in their embryo stage, has been put into jeopardy.

Unlike Pakistan, the Indian federal government recently decided to increase its higher education budget fivefold.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.

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COMMENTS (9)

gp65 | 8 years ago | Reply

@Mirza: I generally agree with your opinion but can only partially agree to this one. IT makes sense to cut defense allocation and increase allocation to basic education and health. So this part I agree.

Where I disagree is about making the payments to the scholarship holders - both domestic and foreign. The thing is scholarship for higher education is one of the biggest ways to provide opportunities to poor but talented people to break out of the cycle of poverty. It seems unreasonable to deny them this chance because some people who were provided this opportunity, misused it and opened a liquor store in US.Secondly, even that decision can be reviewed, it should be done prospectively ot retrospectively. It makes no sense to withhold funds for people who are already mid stream in their courses. Finally does it make sense to withold salaries from professors and lecturers and administrative staff that supports higher education? The issue here is misleading budgeting. Instead of acknowledging a low budget to education, the PPP government appears to be allocating a higher amount but then not allocating as per budget. Conversely, it allocates a smaller amount to defense and security compared to what it knows is the requirement because allocations to defense are also reviewed by other countries.

Nasir Mahmood | 8 years ago | Reply

Please close all the universities and the funds be distributed amongst the coalition partners to keep them happy and the nation sad.

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