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ISLAMABAD, March 29: The commission on implementation of the 18th Amendment has rejected appeals for retaining the central role of the Higher Education Commission and decided to devolve all its functions to the provinces, except those relating to its role as higher educational standardisation body by reframing its ordinance accordingly.

“The HEC act will be revisited and reframed to shed its role as centralised funding authority because under the ‘new state structure’ emerging in the aftermath of the 18th Amendment, there is no room for such a role,” the commission’s chairman, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, said at a press conference here on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the establishment division is all set to issue in 24 hours a notification about devolution of five ministries and six portions of various federal ministries to the provinces. The federal cabinet had on Monday given a go-ahead to the completion of second phase of devolution under the 18th Amendment.

There was a public outburst against the proposed devolution of the HEC and vice-chancellors of more than 36 public sector universities, led by HEC Chairman Dr Javed Leghari, also met the commission on implementation of the 18th Amendment on Saturday to express their concern over the government’s move.

The ministries being devolved are: education, social welfare and special education, tourism, livestock and dairy development and culture. The portions include lotteries, capital gains tax and GST on services from the finance ministry, navigation and inland water wing from the ports and shipping ministry, arms act (issuance of arms licence, except banned bore) from the interior ministry, wills and testaments, trusts, arbitration, bankruptcy and insolvency from the law and justice ministry and a portion of the commerce ministry.

The ministries of special initiatives, Zakat and Ushr, population welfare, youth affairs, local government and rural development had been devolved to the provinces in the first phase in December last year.

The 18th Amendment has given the eight-member commission powers to issue orders, undertake proceedings and make amendments to regulations, enactments, notifications, rules or orders as may be necessary to further the objectives of clause 8 of Article 270(AA) of the Constitution.

It is interesting to note that a three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, has accepted a petition challenging the devolution of the federal education ministry.

Accompanied by the commission’s members Syed Naveed Qamar, Senator Dr Abdul Malik and Senator Rehmatullah Kakar, Mr Rabbani told reporters that 17,440 employees would be affected by the devolution, of them 14,390 were based in Islamabad. Most of them are teaching staff who have been accommodated in other ministries.