ISLAMABAD: Around 270 ongoing projects of public sector universities are in jeopardy because of a financial crunch being faced by the Higher Education Commission (HEC), officials said.
The revelation has come at a time when the federal government is expected to cut the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) 2010-11 by 30 per cent to channelise funds for the rehabilitation of flood hit areas.
HEC officials expressed concern at the commission’s ability to contribute money considering that its budget for this year had already been slashed by 50 per cent by the government.
Dr Sohail Naqvi, executive director HEC, said that under PSDP 2010-11, HEC was allocated Rs15.7 billion for 270 development schemes.
“We have received only Rs1.47 billion so far,” he said. The amount will be utilised to fund PhD programmes for 5000 candidates studying abroad.
“After these funds dry up, some 4000 scholars studying within the country might not be able to continue their studies,” he added.
Dr Naqvi contended that the government could not afford to further delay the allocation of funds to the HEC. He pointed out that last year, Rs11 billion was slashed from HEC budget. “Another 30 per cent is almost impossible. Government should utilise other resources for the rehabilitation efforts instead of decreasing the already insufficient budget of the education sector,” he said.
Officials also confirmed that the delivery of the allocated funds was slow due to which the commission was finding it difficult to continue with ongoing projects or initiate new ones.
“Further cut in the budget would badly impede HEC’s overall development goals,” one official said.
“Everyday, we receive calls from various universities inquiring about the status of various development projects which were promised. But we have no answer for them,” he added.
The commission is also facing difficulty in paying back its liabilities and expenditure incurred during the educational projects completed last year.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2010.
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