Islamabad 300 million dollar grant under World Bank Tertiary Education Support Project (TESP) is in jeopardy, if Finance Division fails to release the pledged supplementary grant to the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in order to achieve the Disbursement-Linked Indicators (DLI).
According to a copy of letter available to this scribe, World Bank (WB) Country Director Rachid Benmessaoud expressed his concern that the project activities Linked to the March 2012 cycle DLIs may not be achieved. The same copy of the letter has been sent to HEC Chairperson Dr. Javaid Laghari, Ministry of Finance Secretary Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, Economic Affairs Division Secretary Abdul Wajid Rana, Economic Affairs Division, Additional Secretary, Himayatullah Khan, Planning Commission Member Dr. Samar Mubarakmand and Economic Affairs Division Joint Secretary Zafar Hassan Reza.
Rachid Benmessaoud, in his letter, conditioned the implementation of TESP with the release of supplementary grant by the Ministry of Finance in order to close the funding gap caused by the reduction in available resources. “The funding gap between the allocation under the budgetary framework and the allocated budget for the year 2012 is Rs7.1 billion. The resource allocation has a direct impact on the scope of activities supported under the project, and is the target of first DLI. The achievement of first DLI is monetized at twice the value of other DLIs given its importance. At present, it is only partially achieved and will go off the track unless additional funds are provided in line with the budgetary framework agreed for the project,” stated the letter.
It is further mentioned in the letter that because of the reduced allocation, HEC has not been able to use technical assistance and training funded under the project, which is also essential for the implementation of programme activities.
The second part of the letter is related to the restriction on the recruitment of staff and procurement of goods. “I understand that Ministry of Finance has introduced the restriction on recruitment of staff and procurement of goods. While these measures may be fiscally justified, they will also have an adverse affect on programme activities, since they will prevent HEC from fulfilling legal covenants of the project such a recruitment of staff for the establishment of TESP Secretariat,” said Rachid Benmessaoud in the letter.
It is pertinent to mention here that the agreement between WB and Ministry of Finance regarding the three-year TESP was signed a month ago, but Ministry of Law is yet to vet it.
Ministry of Finance Secretary Dr. Waqar Masood Khan, when contacted by this scribe said that he hasn’t gone through the letter and is not in the position to comment on the issue right now.
HEC Chairperson Dr. Javaid Laghari when contacted by this scribe conceded that he has received a letter from WB, which is indeed a matter of concern. “The grant of $300 million is extremely important for the growth of higher education sector. I hope that Ministry of Finance would promptly act over the issue and would immediately release the supplementary grant,” he said.
He said that the total shortfall in pledged grant is seven billion but even the release of half of the amount help HEC in continuing its project efficiently.The news.