ISLAMABAD: The government’s reluctance to fund research and development in the country seems to continue into 2018-19 as it allocated roughly Rs2.7 billion to the field, about Rs870 million more than last year.

Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Rana Tanveer Hussein had last year conceded that scientific research and development was not a priority for the incumbent government.

Two years ago, the then Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology Kamran Qureshi also expressed the same concerns.

The Rs870 million extra funding this year is insufficient, especially when the Ministry of Science and Technology needs another Rs412.2 million to complete the Rs1.2 million Science Talent Farming Scheme for Young Students in Islamabad and another Rs664 million to finish the Rs854 million project to establish a Precision Mechanics programme, to mention a few from the list of 20 ongoing small and large scale projects across the country.

In addition the ministry has demanded more than Rs7. 44 billion for another dozen new projects. Seven- including the establishment of the National University of Technology, the establishment of Pak-Korea Testing Facility for Solar and Strengthening of Pakistan National Accreditation Council for Digital Accreditation, the up-gradation of some labs and research facilities-are yet to be approved by the government.

The ministry needs Rs3 billion to set up the ambitious National University of Technology alone and another Rs2 billion for establishing the Competitive Research Programme.

However, a senior official in the ministry said that Pakistan continues to lag behind in the world of scientific research and ranked low in terms of spending on research and development.

The official explained that the amount of funds released for research and development had gone down after 2007-08 and so did activities in scientific research.

“Though scientists have worked hard, the results of planned projects are not visible and a lack of support from the government to the ministry led to most experts switching to more rewarding jobs and better opportunities at home and abroad over the years,” he explained.

According to the official, development projects have suffered in all the 16 departments under the science and technology ministry including the Pakistan Council for Research in Water Resources, Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technologies and the Pakistan Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2018

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