Universities demand budget increase
Islamabad: Making it hard to complete the ongoing projects due to the massive budget cut, vice chancellors of public sector universities on Wednesday held an urgent meeting in which they urged the government to restore the budget to its original level of Rs 28 billion recurring budget and Rs 30 billion development budget as was agreed by the Ministry of Finance for fiscal year 2010-11.

As many as 52 vice chancellors of public sector universities attended the meeting. Addressing a press conference after the meeting, the VCs said that under the current circumstances it would not be possible for the universities to provide the 50 percent ad hoc increase in salaries, 15 percent increase in medical allowance and 15 percent to 20 percent increase in pension to its employees. They called on the government to provide a supplementary recurring grant of Rs7 billion to give salary increase to employees. The VCs expressed the fear that the massive development made by the universities during the last five years would collapse if the government did not increase the budget allocation for the higher education sector. “The budget for the ongoing projects was approved during the last few years but now when these projects are nearing completion and only 10 to 15 percent of their work is remaining, the government is not willing to provide the required amount,” said Fatima Jinnah Woman University (FJWU) VC Syeda Asadullah.

Peshawar University Vice Chancellor Dr Azmat Hayat Khan said that 37 students of the university had been sent abroad for PhD for which they were paying 1,200 dollars per month for each student but now they were finding it hard to pay that much amount when their course was about to end. “What could be worse than not be in a position to pay the increase in the salaries and benefits to employees? Peshawar University alone has to pay Rs 250 million extra in this way,” he said.

On the occasion, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Executive Director (ED) Dr Sohail Naqvi said that they had taken the budget consolidation from all universities before handing over the HEC budget to the Ministry of Finance but even then the budget had been decreased instead of being increased. “We had been meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani who also assured us that the budget allocation for the HEC would be increased but it never happened. On the other hand, the budget has been cut down,” he said.

Punjab University Vice Chancellor Dr Mujahid Kamran also criticised the cut in budget and simultaneous increase in the salaries at that moment. He said that there were 6,200 employees of the Punjab University while 1,960 were taking monthly pension. “The Punjab University is facing a deficit of Rs500 million due to the increase in the salaries alone,” he said. The news

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