KARACHI: Perturbed at reports of financial irregularities and malpractices in public sector universities in the province, caretaker Chief Minister retired Justice Maqbool Baqar on Monday directed the university and boards department and the Sindh Higher Education Commission (SHEC) to conduct the audit of all 27 universities.
The interim CM was visibly disturbed when he was informed that a number of universities had not held meetings of their Senate for long.
He asked the authorities to take action against such universities, including the University of Karachi and Sindh University, for not holding meetings of their Senates.
“I am surprised that nine public sector universities have not held their Senate meetings in the last eight to nine years and they must be taken to task,” he said, adding that the Senate was the apex body of a university that passed its budgets.
Asks authorities to take action against KU, SU and seven other varsities for not holding their Senate meetings
He directed the varsity administrations to hold their Senate meetings at the earliest.
The interim CM was presiding over a meeting of the universities & boards department and SHEC here at the CM House.
The allegations of malpractices and irregularities include payments of overtime to senior officers, non-budgetary expenditures, mishandling of provident fund, procurements without observing government rules, weak internal audit and financial controls mechanisms and poor management of their assets.
The CM also reviewed the state of affairs at KU and asked the authorities to meet the protesting teachers. However, he made it clear resumption of academic activities was the only condition for initiating talks.
Varsities told to set up pension funds
During the meeting, it was pointed out that most of the public-sector universities were running huge losses due to financial mismanagement.
The CM asked the authorities to conduct an audit of all the universities through well-reputed and recognised auditors.
He also directed the public sector universities to establish their pension funds for timely payment of pensions to their retiring or to be retired employees.
He said that the retired employees of Karachi University (KU) and various other universities were running from pillar to post to get their pensions. “This system needed to be reformed and upgraded,” he said.
Earlier, the SHEC chairman informed the interim CM that the commission was established in 2013 with a mandate to promote and improve higher education, research, and development in the province.
The interim CM said that the universities of the world, through their research work, had introduced revolutions in science and technology, medicine, and various other fields, but our universities had not shown such commendable work, which could have been quoted at international forums.
Justice Baqar also said that most PhD degree holders had no such excellence and there was a dire need to examine where the flaws existed.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023