Islamia College University fails to utilise its properties to tackle financial crisis

Published June 4, 2021
Islamia College University Peshawar. — Photo by Sarah Ansari/File
Islamia College University Peshawar. — Photo by Sarah Ansari/File

PESHAWAR: Despite a crippling financial crisis, the Islamia College University Peshawar has failed to utilise its land holdings and commercial properties to offset the impact of the lack of resources.

Strapped for cash like other universities of the province, the historical institution had asked the provincial government in Dec last year for a Rs618 million bailout package.

The details of properties and rents show that the educational institution is receiving peanuts from its land holdings and commercial properties and re-negotiating leases and enhancing rents in line with current market rates has a potential of pushing up the university income from these properties to Rs200 million per annum.

Islamia College University registrar Dr Qasim Mansoor Jalali didn’t respond to this correspondent’s calls and text messages on the matter.

A document detailing the properties and land holdings revealed that unlike the popular perception of the university being rich, its huge properties were in reality dead assets as income from them was nominal.

It said the university was drawing Rs24.84 million from commercial properties and Rs5.4 million from agricultural lands annually.

Document calls for lease re-negotiation, construction of multi-storey buildings

Detailing the issues faced by the university, the document pointed out that some of tenants in its Khyber Bazaar Peshawar property were lawyers, who refused to pay monthly rents, and that a huge amount was pending against them.

It also said some buildings were more than 100 years old and were declared heritage sites, so alteration and changes to them were not allowed.

The document said some of the university’s buildings in Khyber Bazaar were in bad shape and most of them had one or two storeys.

“If multi-storey buildings are constructed, it will enhance the revenue manifold,” it said.

The document also proposed future course of action for the university to turn these proprieties into profitable assets.

It proposed the eviction of current tenants, construction of multi-storey buildings and execution of fresh leases with current occupants.

The document showed that Islamia Club building in the Khyber Bazaar was spread over 14 kanals and there were 222 shops flats in it but it drew Rs0.76 million per month or Rs9.55 million per annum.

It added that under the prevailing market rates, those flats and shops could fetch up to Rs106.5 million. Similarly, the university has 221 shops over 55 kanals of land in Charsadda sabzi mandi but is getting only Rs15.2 million per annum in rent from them.

The document said under the current market rate, it could be enhanced to Rs79.5 million.

It said the university had 1089 jeribs of agricultural land in Harichand and Rai Mahal areas of Charsadda district and Tarnab area of Peshawar, which was currently earning a paltry Rs5.44 million per annum at the lease of Rs4,993 per jerib.

The document said by re-negotiating the lease, the university could earn 21.7 million from these agricultural properties.

It said the university’s salary budget for 2021-22 stood at Rs1.07 billion and pension liabilities at Rs151 million with the total commuted value of pension for the year being Rs25 million.

In last December correspondence with the higher education department, the university noted that it was facing a shortfall of Rs120 million in the recurring grant from the HEC for 2019-20 and the allocation of Rs398 million against Rs1,890 million for the current fiscal.

It said the Covid-19 pandemic had also created a financial liability of Rs211 million during the current fiscal, while a deficit of Rs407 million accumulated due to pension and commutation liabilities causing a cumulative shortfall of Rs618 million for the current fiscal.

Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2021

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