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