ISLAMABAD: Members of a parliamentary committee were on Wednesday told that nine of the Ministry of Science and Technology’s ancillary departments 14 ancillary departments are a burden on the exchequer.

They were also told that only 0.0005pc of the GDP is allocated for research work in Pakistan when 2 to 4 pc should be set aside for research.

The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology was meeting in-house, with Mushtaq Ahmed in the chair and seven other members attending, to work out the future plan and to consider the work carried out by the committee in its last tenure of 2015-18.

One of the members, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) Azam Khan Swati- who was Minister of Science and Technology in 2008-09 when he is the JUI-F- said that most of the departments are not working at all so they should be closed and the private sector should be encouraged to undertake their work instead.

Members call for closing these departments, encouraging private sector to undertake the work instead

“Unfortunately, [unqualified] people are appointed heads of institutions and they do not know about the issues they are to deal with,” he said.

Mr Swati suggested that the committee should encourage the provinces to establish their food authorities and ensure quality of food.

“The Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources should be given to the ministry of water, because it is not performing well. I established 28 water filtration plants in Islamabad but today, half of them are not functioning because even chlorine is not provided to clean water,” he said.

“I found irregularities for Rs980 million in a project for insulin manufacturing as the amount was deposited in 36 different accounts. Though Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif helped me in the matter, only Rs650 million was recovered,” he said.

“The Pakistan Engineering Council should be made independent as the ministry unnecessarily interferes. Projects such as for renewable energy should also closed and the private sector should be encouraged to work on it.

“The Oceanography department tried to purchase a boat for Rs500 million which was available in the market for Rs100 million. The Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has been doing a good job. Similarly, the National University of Science and Technology is performing well,” Mr Swati said.

Independent Senator Dilawar Khan spoke about corruption in all projects and about the wrong people being appointed certain posts.

Another independent Senator, Nuzhat Sadiq suggested the committee visit offices to identify deficiencies. She suggested focusing on the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority because clean water is very important.

PPP Senator Gianchand said that the per-acre yield in Pakistan is very low and suggested that the committee take steps to ensure sufficient amounts are allocated for research.

PTI Senator Faisal Javed said that the youth are going abroad due to the lack of opportunities in Pakistan and suggested that the committee look into it.

Committee chairman Mushtaq Ahmed said all departments will be called to give a briefing about the budget, manpower, achievements and future plans.

Trouble recognising senators

Some of the senators have just been elected and the staff of the committee had a hard time recognising them. Before the start of meetings, the staff place nameplates on seats so that participants of the meeting are able to identify them.

However, staff could not identify newly-appointed senators Hilalur Rehman and Dilawar Khan. Committee staff were asking participants of the meeting, including media persons, to tell them who the senators are.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2018