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Financial crisis brewing at HEC

Another financial crisis brewing at HEC
Islamabad, July 26: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) is likely to face the worst financial crisis ever as the Planning Commission has released only 7% of the total development budget during the first quarter of the fiscal year.

According to sources, the Planning Commission has agreed to release only 7% against the 35% development funds for July. The past practice was to issue 20% during the first two quarters and 30% during the last two quarters.

Sources said that an amount of Rs14 billion was allocated to the HEC for the fiscal year 2011-12, including Rs200 million for scholarships. Only six new projects have been included in the PSDP for the fiscal year 2011-12 with an allocation of Rs679.895 million. The allocation for the ongoing projects is Rs13.32 billion.

However, it is feared that HEC won't be able to work on its development projects due to shortage of funds, sources said.

According to sources, in this connection, HEC Executive Director (ED) Dr. Sohail Naqvi has written letters to vice chancellors, rectors and deans of all universities, a copy of which is available with 'The News'. In the letter, Dr. Naqvi informed heads of higher education institutions about the whole situation and stated that the current situation seems to be worse than the previous year.

"We are still working out consequences of such a release schedule. However, in all probability it will mean that during the first six months of the current fiscal year only funds for scholarships would be available since these have to be paid in full upfront at the beginning of the academic year. This will also mean that in all probability less funds will be available since generally PSDP funds are the first to be cut when any financial shortfall is faced," he said in the letter.

He further informed that last year, as a result of the consolidated demand of vice chancellors, bulk of the funds were released in the first two quarters as is required by the nature of higher education projects. Even then, an amount of Rs600 million was not released at the end of the financial year. This year, the situation is already looking worse.

According to information and contents of the letter, it is expected that 7% of the total amount will be released every month. However no assurance has been provided about it. "This will mean that every month, files for the release of funds will have to be moved by the HEC by also providing details about utilisation of funds released during the previous month. An endless cycle of release and reconciliation will take place," Dr. Naqvi mentioned in the letter.

HEC Chairman Dr. Javaid Laghari conceded that the HEC was facing worst financial crisis its history. "The released amount will not even suffice for paying tuition fees of our scholarship holders which are to be paid upfront at the beginning of the academic year (i.e. now). So all other development projects will have to go on hold for three months," he said.

He said that they were still hopeful that the government would consider the need for adequate release of funds for the higher education sector and release sufficient amount of funds soon. The news

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HEC places 415 fresh PhD scholars in 66 universities
Islamabad: Higher Education Commission (HEC) has successfully placed 415 Pakistani PhDs as Assistant Professors at 66 public and private sector universities across the country. The task has been accomplished through HEC's Interim Placement of Fresh PhDs (IPFP) programme. The specific faculty requirements of the host institutions and the priority of returning scholars were duly taken into consideration prior to every placement so that the services of the PhD scholars are optimally utilized by HEC.

The programme has also attracted non-HEC scholars, as out of 415,168 are non-HEC scholars who have benefited from IPFP programme. Among the new universities brought on board this year are mostly young HEIs such as Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, Quetta, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore, Dawood College of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, College of Business Management, Karachi and Karakorum International University, Gilgit. Daily times

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Highs and lows of Air University
Islamabad: In its audit of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) accounts of fiscal year 2010-11, the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) has identified Rs12.36 billion misappropriations and objections.

Out of the 77 audit objections, the AGP detected the biggest loss of Rs2.91 billion in the allotment of land at low price to the Air University, which is a private enterprise and charges its students high fees.

The AGP report has highlighted that Director Estate Management-II allotted land measuring 70 acres (338,800 square yards) in H-11/2 on 33-year lease to Air University at Rs4,500 per square yard instead of Rs13,100 per sq yard as notified by the finance wing of the CDA.

The audit report said the CDA had offered the same land at Rs7,400 per square yard in September 2010 during negotiations with the Higher Education Commission (HEC), which was mediating the agreement.

The CDA told the HEC since the Air University was a private entity and was functioning on commercial basis it should pay Rs7,400 per square yard.

The auditors have identified that the lower rates were not applicable since the Air University was charging commercial fee from the students which is higher than the fees charged by public sector universities. However, the CDA later agreed to lease the land at reduced prices of Rs4,500.

Another major misappropriation of Rs2.60 billion has been reported in the unauthorised rescheduling of payment relating to a plot by Pak Gulf Construction Company.

In a similar case the office of the CDA director project management did not cash the bank guarantees provided by Pak Gulf Construction Company even when the company stopped payments of its monthly instalment for the plot it purchased. There is another audit objection related to the same case amounting to Rs816.27 million.

The auditors have highlighted that the CDA enhanced the rock excavation rates to National Highway Authority at Zero Point Interchange, by manifolds after the project approval.

It highlighted that the rates quoted by the NHA at the time of filing bids were Rs521.49 per cubic meter for hard rock, Rs333.40 per cubic meter for medium rock and Rs270.38 per cubic meter for soft rock.

However, the NHA enhanced the rates to Rs1,464.42, Rs1,065.00 and Rs960.84 respectively which were accepted by the CDA Deputy Director Roads Division-I on the grounds that the rates quoted by the NHA were for rock excavation through blasting which could not be done at Zero Point and the NHA had to use earthmoving machine.The audit report said the NHA quoted rates as per their schedule and after inspection of the site but after obtaining the contract, it enhanced the charges significantly causing a loss of Rs66.50 million to the CDA.

There are various references and objections amounting to Rs1.2 billion which include irregular award of works without tendering,

The Deputy Director Building Control Section-III failed to charge Rs275.10 million for additional floors from 4th to 10th on a building of Pakistan Red Crescent Society.

In another case, the CDA placed six category-I plots measuring 600 sq yards each and three category–II plots measuring 356 sq yards each in I-8 sector at the disposal of Federal Government Employees' Housing Foundation. It doled out the plots from its quota through Director Estate management –I, without any approved policy.

The auditors have recommended strict internal management controls in the CDA, where the objections and recommendations of the finance department are either overruled or ignored.

Besides, the recovery departments should develop follow-up mechanism.

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Students of private colleges excel in HSSC exams
Abbottabad/Mardan: The intermediate and secondary education boards of Abbottabad and Mardan announced results of higher secondary schools certificate part-II on Sunday.

Safia Bibi of the Peace School and College, Nowshera Cant, topped the overall results of the Mardan board, getting 970 marks out of 1,100 marks.

Mohammad Ali of the Government Degree College, Gandaf Swabi, stood second with 966 marks while Hanadi Shad of the Quaid-e-Azam Public School and College, Swabi, stood third securing 956 marks, respectively.

Announcing results, the controller of examinations, Prof Farmanullah, said a total of 54,123 candidates appeared in the examination out of which 28,070 were declared successful. Overall results remained 60.78 per cent.

In pre-medical group, Safia Bibi of the Peace School and College, Nowshera Cant, bagged first position with 970 marks. In pre-engineering group, Raweed Ullah, Noman and Yousaf Ali of the Quaid-e-Azam Public School and College, Swabi got first

positions.In the general science group, Nimra Hamid of the Islamia Degree College for Girls, Nowshera got first position with

888 marks. In the humanities group, Sheena Fazal Ali of the Government Girls Higher Secondary School, Topi Swabi, bagged first position securing 863 marks.

Meanwhile, in Abbottabad board, Malik Abdul Wahab of Pakistan International Public School and College topped the over results securing 958 marks.

According to the controller of the examinations, a total of 29,013 students appeared in part-II examination out of which 15,846 were declared pass with 54.62 pass percentage.

In pre-medical (female) Aqsa Shahzadi of Jinnah Jamia, Haripur, clinched first position by getting 936 marks, while Rabia Kanwal got second position securing 935 marks. In pre-medical (male) Danyal Sajjad of Al-Quran School, Mansehra got first position with 946 marks.

In pre-engineering (female) Hina Shoukat of Jinnah Jamia, Haripur secured first position getting 945 marks. In pre-engineering (male) Malik Abdul Wahab of Pakistan International Public School and College got first position with 958 marks.

In general science (female) Iqra Shah of Khyber Public School, Mansehra got first position with 837 marks. In general science (male), Hassan Ali Butt of Pakistan International Public School and College, clinched first position with 926 marks. Dawn

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MUST to hold entry test on August 21
Mirpur(AJK): The state-run Mirpur University of Science & Technology (MUST) here Monday announced that the entry test for the admissions to 4-year Undergraduate Programmes 2011-12 in Engineering Disciplines will be held only in Mirpur on August 21, 2011, it was officially declared.

"In continuation of our advertisement (Admission Notice) published in various national English and Urdu dailies, all the candidates seeking admission in 4-year undergraduate programmes in the Mirpur University of Science and Technology (MUST), Mirpur are informed that the entry test will be held only in Mirpur on August 21, for Engineering disciplines," says an official proclamation released by Public Relations Officer MUST Raja Ijaz Salim here on Monday.

"Therefore the candidates are advised to select only Mirpur as venue for the Entry Test", the proclamation said adding "other requirements and instruction will remain the same". The nation

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