Education budget decline | HEC devolution

Education, health get paltry share in next budget
Islamabad, May 27: The upcoming Economic Survey 2010-11, to be unveiled by Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on June 2, will show a steep decline in spending on education and health in the aftermath of the inflated GDP size touching Rs18,000 billion or $210 billion for the outgoing financial year.

"Spending on education is expected to decline to 1.3 percent of GDP in 2010-11 from an earlier 2 percent of GDP in 2009-10 while spending on health will go down below one percent of GDP after the inflated size of GDP," sources have confirmed.

"The highest ever inflationary pressure of 46 months, the longest period in the country's history, has resulted in a substantial surge in the GDP size in the outgoing fiscal year which will translate into some good and some bad news in terms of indicators for the fiscal year 2010-11."

The gravity of the situation can be gauged from the fact that the working paper prepared by the Planning Commission (PC) for National Economic Council, set to meet with the prime minister in the chair tomorrow (Saturday), contained some serious errors. An insider said that the Planning Commission never comprehended that the country's current account would show surplus results, so they applied the definition of current account deficit in the released working paper.

"In reality, the current account is nothing but savings-investment gap. If the current account is in surplus then by definition savings exceed investment. But the PC document is showing the contradictory picture," a PC source said. "No one in the Planning Commission is accepting responsibility for this error."

However, the source said the inflated figures of GDP size would provide some good news to the economic managers since per capita income would touch $1,246 for the outgoing fiscal year and result in an improved position on the fiscal deficit side, a crucial number for the economy under the IMF programme.

The one percent of fiscal deficit in terms of GDP has been estimated at Rs180 billion from the earlier projection of Rs171 billion for the outgoing fiscal year, resulting in the desired result of restricting budget deficit in the range of 5.5 percent of the GDP for 2010-11. The current account in terms of the GDP will also show improvements.

The public debt to GDP ratio will also be improved in the upcoming Economic Survey 2010-11 because of the inflated GDP size. The debt to GDP ratio will show even better results if the government does not include IMF money in the public debt definition, though this will be a violation of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act 2005 approved by Parliament.

On the negative side, the FBR's tax to GDP ratio will decline to 8.8 percent of GDP in case the Board collects Rs1,580 billion till June 30, 2011 from the earlier number of 9.1 percent of the GDP for the last financial year 2009-10. The investment to GDP ratio and export to GDP ratio will also decline in the coming Economic Survey 2010-11. The news

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Teachers, clerks call off protest
Islamabad: After assurances by finance managers that their woes will be addressed in the upcoming budget 2011-12, teachers and clerks demanding higher pays on Wednesday called off their plans to go on strike.

The representatives of All Pakistan Clerks Association (APCA) and the Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) met with Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood, who assured them that finding solutions to financial difficulties of the government employees would be a priority in the coming budget.

Earlier, teachers and clerks gathered outside the D Chowk in front of the Parliament House on Wednesday and staged a sit-in. They demanded increase in salaries in accordance with the recommendations of the Pay and Pension Commission.

Addressing the participants of the rally, the representatives of teachers and clerks said the salaries should be increased in accordance with inflation rate. They also demanded regularisation of employees working in the public sector organisations on contracts.

Nazar Hussain Korai, central president APCA, said the association was an apolitical entity fighting for the rights of grade 1-16 employees.

He said the salaries of employees were increased once in a year but inflation "hits the poor after every 15 days". He regretted that the rulers were least bothered about the problems of the government employees as they don't have to face the increase in prices of electricity, petrol, diesel, pulses, sugar, flour, edible oil and daily commodities.

President PTU Syed Sajjad Akbar Kazmi said the quality of life for the white collar employees was declining.

He said the electricity prices have been increased by 23 per cent, diesel by 70 per cent, and the prices of sugar and other edible items, including pulses, oil and onion, have gone up by 100 per cent. Other speakers demanded that all government employees on contract be given relief in salaries, asking to revise their pay scales.

Demanding Rs3,000 increase in medical allowance, they said the house rent should be increased by 70 per cent and transportation allowance by 100 per cent.

They demanded implementation of the recommendations of the Pay and Pension commission, terming it a long-term solution to the problems faced by low and mid-level employees. Dawn

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Khosa speaks against devolution of HEC
Islamabad: Terming the federal role of Higher Education Commission (HEC) inevitable for the sustainable growth of research and development in the country, Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa has raised his voice against its devolution.

"The HEC should not be devolved at any cost. Its present form should exist for the larger interest of the country as it has performed extraordinarily well in its present form," he said while addressing the National Conference on 'Setting Standards for 21st Century Pakistan' organised by the Higher Education Commission (HEC) here on Thursday.

The governor stated that he strongly feels that the agriculture-based universities of Pakistan could provide a strong base to boost a culture of use of innovative research for growth of agriculture in the country. "Similarly, in other sectors of national economy such as energy, textile and services, universities are the only potential source of building a strong economy and nation as a whole," he added.

Khosa appreciated the idea of showcasing achievements of the higher education institutions and their contribution in building socio-economic infrastructure of the country. Today's event would lead to a national consensus on how to salvage the economic situation and image of Pakistan through a strong network of higher education set-up which in turn is able to develop a culture for its surrounding communities and is able to serve the local as well as national community at large," he said.

Dr. Samar Mubarakmand, on the occasion, said that Pakistan needs a contribution from engineers and scientists to develop and refine the processes for conversion of coal gas to diesel and separation of copper, gold, silver and cobalt from ores through efficient means. "The role of universities in producing competent scientists and researchers is indeed commendable. The expansion of the higher education is seen as a necessary condition for integration of national economies into an increasingly sophisticated and interconnected world economy," he added.

Dr Javaid Laghari said that academics have an important role to play in the development of the country. He said that universities have three major challenges in the 21st Century, which include building economy, building communities and building leadership.

He emphasised that there is an urgent need of technology transfer by the universities.

"It is an unfortunate fact that there was not enough money to support higher education in the country. In the developed world at least four per cent of the GDP is allocated for education of which around 30 per cent goes to the higher education. If we have to move forward and stand tall in the comity of nations, there must be a higher percentage of allocation to education, especially higher education," he said.

Former HEC chairman Dr Atta-ur-Rahman said that only those countries of the world were progressing who have exploited their human resource and invested in education. He said that experiences of developed world show that economic growth is directly proportional to the university research, adding that development of South Korea is an excellent example for countries like Pakistan.

KP Minister for Higher Education Qazi Muhammad Asad Khan said that the output from universities needs to be incorporated into public policy. He also underlined the need of change in attitude of industry towards universities, adding that there is a dire need for the universities to understand their role seriously and develop such programmes and initiatives that directly support the government for increasing products and patents from Pakistan.

HEC Executive Director Dr Sohail Naqvi said that the basic objective of the conference and exhibition was to provide a forum for interaction of key stakeholders. "We wanted to provide a platform to universities to showcase their research and let the industry, business leaders and other stakeholders know about the potential and capacity of our universities for overall economic growth of the country," he added.

The conference participants agreed that a knowledge-based society and its economic growth are completely dependent on the generation of intellectual capital, which itself dependent on higher education. It is expected that discussion among different stakeholders will provide an impetus leading to a national pledge to be taken to promote university-community and university-industry linkage and technology transfer for building a strong Pakistan.

An exhibition was organised on the occasion which showcased projects initiated in various universities of the country that have already demonstrated significant commercial potential addressing the needs of the industry.

Centre of Excellence in Art and Design MUET Jamshoro has displayed variety of textile designing and handicraft that has been produced for commercial purposes. The most significant part of the stall was the natural dyes that has been used for block printing According to the experts, the natural dyes are better from artificial dyes in many ways as they are better in quality and durability besides that they have no side effects.

The research product 'OMR' of COMSATS was one of the most significant research products among all displays. It's a balloting machine, which has made the voting process easier and transparent than ever before.

The other research displays of COMSATS included the LED lights which help to cut down power consumption up to 70 per cent and have an average life of 12 years as compared with 2 years life of normal HPS lamps besides that they are environment friendly. On the other hand The University of Faisalabad has displayed their various research outcomes that mainly include the cattle feed, balanced bio fertilizer and mass rearing of larval parasite.

Quad-e-Azam University Biological Sciences Dean Dr Abdul Hameed on the occasion briefed media about their environment friendly project that mainly include bio diesel for non-edible oil seed plants, making environment friendly leather commercial use of indigenously produced enzymes in poultry feed and commercial viability of indigenously produced L-Lysine from coryne bacterium in poultry feed.

The other research projects displayed by the various universities on the occasion included remote guarding (Suicide Bomber Detector) by Dawood College of Engineering and Technology; A rugged wireless micro-sensor technology development for aircraft health management by Institute of Space Technology; lungs tumour detection from CT-Scan lungs images and sign language tutor by International Islamic University; academic institution alert management system by Kohat University of Science and Technology; design and fabrication of indigenous Thar Coal Gasifier and indigenous design and fabrication of MSW Incinerator by Mehran University of Engineering and Technology; A knowledge-based expert system to diagnose spinning faults for producing high quality yarn by National Textile University; development of light weight 3 wheeler 4 stroke slim car, prosthetic uppen limb and solar hybrid water heating system by National University of Science and Technology; building capacity in Pakistan to seismically retrofit essential structures by NED University of Engineering and Technology; animal feed bags, rose perfume, textile dying and vaccines and herbal products by University of Agriculture; absorption of alcohols/water and carboxylic acids/ water mixtures by synthetic-zeolites by University of Balochistan; design and development of low cost synthesis gas generation, development of a virtual machine monitor for MIPS64 processors and invoice processing automation software by University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore.

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IIU to sign MoU with Middlesex University
Islamabad: The International Islamic University (IIU) and Middlesex University of London have agreed to develop direct contacts in the field of postgraduate research and undergraduate studies to facilitate students of both universities.

This was stated by IIU Director-General (Administration, Finance & Planning) Gulzar Ahmad Khawaja after a meeting with a delegation of the Middlesex University, London, here on Thursday. The members of the delegation were Dr. Waqar Ahmad, deputy vice chancellor for research and enterprise executive at the Middlesex University, London; and Professor Dr. Raj Gill, regional director for Middle East, Africa and Pakistan. Gulzar Ahmad Khawaja said that a proposal should be prepared to facilitate the exchange of students, especially in the field of research. The proposal was agreed by the delegates of Middlesex University and an MoU will be signed in this regard soon. The news

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