Punjab Assembly speaker wants govt to disaffiliate medical colleges from two universities

Updated January 18, 2019

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113 MPAs denied entry to session for being ECP non-filers.
113 MPAs denied entry to session for being ECP non-filers.

LAHORE: Speaker Pervaiz Elahi has asked the health minister to disaffiliate medical colleges from the Gujrat and Sargodha universities, which the Shahbaz Sharif-led government opened without any spadework and the required support.

In Gujrat University, Mr Elahi said the medical college was opened in two blocks of the varsity’s purpose-built building and it could not function to anybody’s satisfaction level.

Lamenting that the Gujrat varsity’s vice chancellor is also running the medical college, he said the previous government did nothing to run the college.

The speaker stressed that the incumbent government should provide better residential facilities and lucrative pay packages to attract qualified faculty to run medical colleges at their optimal level.

Health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid said all medical colleges were facing acute shortage of faculty and added that Nishtar [Medical College] as well as two other medical colleges were paying up to Rs7 million fine annually for not meeting the PMDC requirements – particularly faculty criteria.

113 MPAs denied entry to session for being ECP non-filers

“Some 30 per cent of teachers posts in medical colleges have been lying vacant since long and the situation of availability of basic sciences teachers is even worse,” the health minister said while responding to queries in thinly-attended Question Hour in Punjab Assembly on Thursday.

Some 113 members including ministers, advisers and special assistants were denied entry into the assembly on the instruction of the Election Commission of Pakistan. These legislators had not filed their statement of assets with the ECP.

The House could not carry out government business of discussion on annual reports of development authorities of Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala and Faisalabad for the year 2012-13 as housing minister Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed was not present.

Responding to a question about stopping funds for the construction of medical college in Narowal, Dr Rashid said the government wanted to make the existing medical colleges functional by making faculty available and then the [Narowal] college would remain a priority.

Stating that the teaching institutions needed some 4,000 faculty members, she said the PTI government had recruited some 1,100 teachers and posted in colleges. A PML-N MPA also informed the house that 20 out of 21 professors posts in Sahiwal Medical College were lying vacant.

Referring to unattractive pay package, the health minister said the Punjab Public Service Commission had informed her that it advertised 11 posts of anaesthetists and paediatricians twice but nobody applied.

Regretting that the previous government subjected medical teachers to adhocism, she said the government had plans to offer lucrative pay packages to medical teachers so that they could find better opportunities in public sector colleges instead of private institutions. She said the Punjab cabinet, in its last meeting, had already given its nod to increase pay packages of all doctors and faculty members.

Speaker Mr Elahi also suggested that the government should offer even more lucrative pay package to those willing to work in medical colleges in remote areas. He also suggested that retirement age of a medical teacher should be raised from 63 years to 67 years with special pay package.

Former health minister Salman Rafique suggested that the matter of medical teachers recruitment with lucrative pay package might be referred to the [health] committee.

Former minister Malik Nadeem Kamran suggested a special meeting for the lucrative pay package for medical colleges in remote areas in the province.

The speaker said an emergency needed to be imposed in the health department and out-of-box solutions be implemented to set the things right in the best interest of the general public across the province.

As a treasury member said the previous government did nothing to resolve core issues in the health department, the speaker said, “The [treasury] members should now start `feeling’ that they are in government and everyone will be asking them questions and remedy for different issues”.

The speaker deferred a question about agriculture as minister Nauman Langrial was not present in the house. “The minister has been suspended for not filing his statement of assets with the ECP,” he said.

The house unanimously passed a resolution supporting media workers in their demand for reinstatement of dismissed staff as well as payment of pending salaries.

Moved by prosecution minister Chaudhry Zaheeruddin, the resolution stated that the independence of media was highly important for the creation of a healthy society and strengthening of democracy.

The resolution said as the media workers had been protesting for the last many months and the [media] owners were not responding to them, it was suggested that payment of advertisement bills be linked to the release of salaries to media workers. On a call attention notice by treasury MPA Sabeen Gul Khan, law minister Basharat Raja said two police teams were actively investigating to apprehend the killer of PTI senior vice president Rashid Bukhari.

Ms Khan said the CCTV footage showed that the killer continued waiting for two hours and opened fire on Bukhari as he reached near him while travelling towards his home. “It is a matter of target killing,” she said. However, the law minister said there was no need to jump to the conclusion before the killer be arrested and investigated.

The law minister also turned down an adjournment motion against the electronic advertisement boards on public poles at major city roads saying the LED streamers were not causing any disruption for drivers. He said all other billboards, asked for removal by the Supreme Court, had already been disposed of.

The speaker adjourned the session till Friday (today) 9am.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2019