SAHIWAL: The District Accounts Office (DAO) has stopped the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff of two colleges as the Higher Education Department (HED) and the finance department have failed to devise a policy on Asaan Assignment Account (AAA) for 18 public sector colleges across the province.

More than 350 employees of the Government Graduate College (for boys) and the Government Graduate College for Women, Sahiwal, will not get their salaries next month. Ilyas Afzal, a senior official at the DAO, and the principals of both colleges confirmed the news.

Sources said the teachers of both colleges on Friday received a message from www.pifra.gov.pk at their emails that their “salary has been stopped with effect from 01/10/2021”.

The Punjab government granted autonomous status to 26 colleges under the Punjab Educational and Training Institution Ordinance - 1960 in 2012. The HED formed the Board of Governors (BOGs) for these colleges -- a move which was strongly opposed by the Punjab Professors and Lecturers Association through public protests in Lahore and other parts of Punjab.

Eight of the colleges were later converted into autonomous universities through legislation. As for the other colleges, the Punjab government disbursed the salaries of teaching and non-teaching staff through designated heads of DAOs while non-salary budget was placed in the Special Drawing Account (SDA).

In an unexpected move on Aug 16, 2021, the Punjab Finance Department proposed the shifting of the public sector employees’ salaries from the District Accounts Office’s designated heads (drawing and disbursement officers) to heads under the new accounts at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). The move was rejected by the PPLA provincial and divisional representatives as well as the principals of the 18 colleges.

Sources said the principals raised 18 objections to the proposal by the finance department. They said the HED and finance department higher-ups discussed the issue with the principals but had yet to finalise a decision as a result of which next month’s salary of the employees of the two colleges would not be transferred.

Ilyas Afzal told Dawn that the DAO released a quarterly budget of both colleges and it ended in August.

“As we have not received any letter from the Accountant General Punjab that nullifies the above notification, we have stopped this quarter’s salaries of both colleges’ teaching and non-teaching staff.”

A source said the AGP, the finance department and the HED were in favour of disbursing salaries of the employees of the 18 colleges through DAOs and not through the new accounts but a decision was yet to be made.

Meanwhile, PPLA provincial general secretary Sahibzada Ahmed Nadeem said the decision to stop the salaries of the employees because of red tape was unjustified. He said the PPLA would launch protests across Punjab to highlight the cruel move.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2021

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