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.