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Another Rs2bn shock for Higher Education Commission (HEC)

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Another Rs2bn shock for Higher Education Commission (HEC)
« on: October 22, 2008, 07:31:08 PM »
Another Rs2bn shock for Higher Education Commission (HEC)

Islamabad, Oct 22: The government has again put the Higher Education Commission (HEC) in economic crisis by not releasing development grant worth Rs4 billion which was due early this month, a well-placed official said.

The government had already conveyed to the HEC officials that it would not be able to provide the required funding for the ongoing second quarter of the current financial year and a cut of 50 per cent is expected to be imposed, the official said.

"So far, though quite tough, the HEC was managing, but with this new cut, things would seriously become difficult for the commission to run in a smooth manner," the official confided to this reporter.

With this cut, the HEC would be facing a total shortfall of Rs6 billion which would seriously hamper its development projects, he responded to a query, adding that things were getting worse for the commission with every passing day.

According to an earlier assessment, a total of 250 development projects would suffer both minor and major delays, but with this trend, it seems most of the HEC's development projects would come to a grinding halt, the official said.

The promotion of higher education sector, which was boasted as one of the milestones by the outgoing chairperson Dr Attaur Rehman, seems tumbling down because the incumbent government is finding it difficult to provide billions of rupees earmarked for the development of this sector.

In 2002, when the HEC was set up under a presidential ordinance, its annual budget was limited to only Rs500 million but over the years it had witnessed a phenomenal increase and risen to over Rs20 billion for the present financial year.

The economic worries of the HEC started when the government stopped its development grant for the fourth quarter of the last economic year which the government is yet to release.

Meanwhile, the government announced a pay increase of 20 per cent in the salaries of university teachers which put an extra pressure on HEC's annual budgetary allocations.

During the first quarter of the current financial year, the HEC was supposed to get Rs4.523 billion, whereas the government only released Rs2.555 billion, which shell-shocked Dr Rehman and his team.

Now the HEC was due to get Rs4 billion for the second quarter (October to December) of the current financial year, however, the government has decided to impose a 50 per cent cut on this which would further increase its economic worries, the official said. Dawn