Monday, May 30, 2022

No question of cuts in HEC budget: PM Shehbaz Sharif

PM Shehbaz Sharif orders increase in HEC resources, revival of education programmes in all universities

No question of cuts in HEC budget: PM Shehbaz Sharif

  • PM Shehbaz Sharif orders increase in HEC resources, revival of education programmes in all universities.
  • Premier's focal person Abubakr Umer refutes reports of over 50% cut in higher education budget.
  • Says "budget may increase" as govt plans to add laptop and other schemes for all students.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday rubbished the reports of over a 50% reduction in the budget of the Higher Education Commission (HEC), directing the authorities that there will be no cuts in the HEC budget.

"There is no question of a cut in the budget of [the] Higher Education Commission," PM Shehbaz Sharif wrote.

The premier said that he is aware of the negative impact of the budget cuts on higher education for the last four years. He said that he has issued clear directives to the planning commission and finance ministry.

PM Shehbaz Sharif said that the HEC should be made functional in the way it worked in the previous PML-N's government.

He also ordered to make significant increases in the HEC resources, provide facilities to the teachers and students and divert focus on the revival of education programmes in all universities of the country.

"The number of programmes should be increased while making the standard of higher education world-class," PM Shehbaz Sharif said.

Earlier, PM's focal person on Digital Media Abubakr Umer also refuted the reports of budget cuts for HEC, saying that the premier has directed the authorities against any deduction.

"No cuts in higher education budget, PM Shehbaz Sharif has categorically directed the authorities," Umer wrote on Twitter.

The newly established federal government had reportedly proposed cutting the education budget by more than half to Rs30 billion for the fiscal year 2022–23, compared to the previous allocation of Rs65.25 billion.

The provisional indicative budgetary ceiling and revised estimates for 2021-22 are worth Rs65,250 million, according to a circular published by the Finance Division, as per a report published by The News, whereas the budget projections for grants relating to the HEC are around Rs30,000 million.

Meanwhile, the HEC authorities sought Rs100 billion to cover expenses and ensure that research initiatives at public universities run smoothly upon being asked to compile a budget statement in conformity with the specified budget for 2022-23 and submit it to the Finance Division's director budget wing for entry.

When asked for clarity that whether the budget would remain as much as allocated in the PTI-regime or what HEC has demanded, Umer told that the reference point will be according to the previous budget.

However, he said that "the budget may increase" as the government is planning to add a laptop distribution scheme for all Pakistani students.

"The HEC would share all their requirements with the Finance Division and it seems like we will have to increase the budget after the approval of government's laptop and e-learning schemes," Umer said.