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HEC grant cut by Rs6.5bn in six months

Govt cuts down HEC grant by Rs6.5bn in six months
Islamabad, Nov 25: All ongoing projects of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), including up-gradation of existing universities as well as around 3,000 students studying abroad on scholarships, might be affected owing to severe financial crisis being faced by the country, as the government cut down its envisaged allocations by Rs6.5 billion in the last two quarters, it is learnt.
The Gilani government is forced to cut down its expenditure side and the easy way for moving ahead is to slash down development expenditures. The public sector development programme (PSDP) is likely to cut down by Rs100-150 billion in the current fiscal year in order to meet the IMF demand for curtailing ballooning expenditure side for meeting envisaged fiscal deficit target.

The PPP led government cut down Rs3 billion for the HEC during the last quarter (April-June) of the fiscal year 2007-08 and this trend continued to persist by cutting down Rs3.5 billion in the first quarter (July-Sept) period of the ongoing financial year 2008-09.

"Total deficit in funds grant went up to Rs 6.5 billion for the last two consecutive quarters and the situation has reached to the extent where contractors were planning to approach the higher judiciary for seeking compensations if their funds were not released immediately," official sources said here on Monday.

Pakistan had made commitments to jack up allocation for the education sector up to 4 per cent of the GDP in years ahead but Islamabad is moving other way round under which allocation for education is decreasing in the GDP terms.

"The latest PRSP report of the finance ministry shows that the total spending on education was less than 2 per cent of the GDP in the last financial year," sources said.There is strong feeling within the ranks of the government to provide all-out financial resources to the HEC which were meant for 3,000 students studying abroad on scholarships for doing their PhDs in their respective fields, said the official sources and added but there was also one view that the previous government launched HEC projects without well-thought-out strategy and these projects needed to be rationalised in order to avoid wastage of money.

But the official sources also pointed out that if the government cut down allocations for the universities then the students studying abroad on scholarship could not be utilised in the country on their return and Pakistan would loose an opportunity to transform its economy on knowledge-based foundation.

The government has allocated Rs18 billion for development projects in the HEC for the current fiscal year 2008-09 and Rs15 billion for current expenditures of the commission in order to meet non-development expenditures, including salaries of professors and other working staff in the institutions falling under the HEC.

"The government has not increased any amount for the HEC in the current fiscal year as it envisaged Rs18 billion allocations in FY2008-09 compared to the same amount of the previous fiscal year," said the official sources.

When HEC executive-director Sohail Naqvi was asked about financial difficulties being faced by the commission, he told this scribe that the HEC has completed all procedural requirements by submitting cash plans to the finance ministry and they are waiting for release of the allocated funds in the ongoing quarter (Oct-Dec) period of the current fiscal year.

"We don't know when the government will release the allocated amount but it should be done within a few days," he said and added the higher education should be priority of the government. There were 397 development schemes under the PSDP head whereas throw forward touched new heights by touching Rs282.835 billion on June 30, 2007. The News

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Body formed to resolve medical education issues
Islamabad: Ministry of Health, Pakistan Medical & Dental Council (PM&DC), Higher Education Commission (HEC) and College of Physicians & Surgeons of Pakistan (CPSP) on Monday formed an Advisory Committee on Health Professionals Education to align their policies and improve coordination amongst them. The first meeting of the committee was held under the chairmanship of Director General (DG) Health Dr Rasheed Jooma at the Ministry of Health. The meeting considered issue of award of status of professional degree to higher professional diploma offered by different medical institutions. Another issue discussed in the meeting was consolidation of activities relating to accreditation of under graduate and postgraduate programmes with technical & organisational facilitation from the HEC. Daily Times

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