Govt to cut HEC’s 2018-19 development budget by around 14pc

Updated October 01, 2018

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A view of the HEC building. ─ File
A view of the HEC building. ─ File

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to cut the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) development budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year by around 14pc.

Sources in the commission said the government has also decided not to fund more than 40 development projects that were included in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) as unapproved projects.

However, they said, the government has assured the commission there will be no cuts in the budget for ongoing development projects and non-development expenditure.

The last government had earmarked Rs35 billion for development schemes in the ongoing fiscal year, but also allocated funds for a number of unapproved development projects. Sources in the commission said the new government has decided to give the HEC Rs30bn instead of the approved Rs35bn.

While presenting the supplementary budget before the National Assembly, Finance Minister Asad Umar had said there would not be any cuts to the HEC’s development budget, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects or the Diamer-Bhasha dam. HEC officials Dawn spoke to said the projects could not be taken up in the Central Development Working Party meeting of the Planning Commission.

“We are being told that there will not be able funding for are unapproved projects this year, but the government will look into these projects next year,” an HEC official said.

Among the unapproved projects are the construction of a hostel and sports facilities at the Karakorum International University, the development of academic and research infrastructure for the University of Gwadar, the development of a campus management system with implementation of the financial management system and human resource management system – HEC e-Campus, the development of the main campus of Bacha Khan University in Charsadda and the development of the Rawalpindi Medical University.

Other unapproved projects include the development of the University of Sahiwal, the drug addiction preventive programme in educational institutions and the establishment of Baba Gurunanak International University in Nankana Sahib, a centre for interfaith harmony and cooperation of civilisation in Kartarpur, a centre of water resource in Balochistan, the Gandhara University in Taxila, the Institute of Sufism and Mysticism and a national centre for human nutrition.

The establishment of national institutes of applied technologies and specialised research centres to support CPEC initiatives, a Pak-China National Research Centre on Earth Sciences at Quaid-i-Azam University, a project management unitfor the implementation and monitoring of PSDP initiatives at the HEC and the capacity building of planning and developmentstaff at public sector universities and sub-campuses of public sector universities at the district level (phase two) were also unapproved.

A spokesperson for the HEC could not be reached for comment on Sunday, but sources in the commission confirmed to Dawn that the government has decided to slash funding for unapproved projects.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2018