KARACHI       -       On the suggestion of Professor Attaur Rahman, Chairman of Prime Minister’s National Task Force on Science and Technology, the Prime Minister has agreed to increase the grants of research institutes in the higher education sector in Pakistan. 

The federal cabinet has decided that the additional amount of Rs2billion will be distributed by the Planning Ministry in consultation with Prof Atta-ur-Rahman.

This was recently approved by the cabinet when it was decided that a sum of Rs 2 billion will be additionally given to the research institutes in the higher education sector in the country, a senior official in the Prime Ministers National Task Force on Science and Technology said on Sunday.

“Institutes are facing severe problems because they do not charge any fee for students registered in the institutes as the fee goes to the universities and so they do not have any mechanism available for addressing the financial cuts. There has been about a 40 per cent impact on the budget of these institutions because of the 50 per cent devaluation of the Pak rupee against the US dollar, 10 per cent inflation as well as the raise in salaries and utility prices this year,” he said, adding that these funds would be provided from the allocations made to the Knowledge Economy Task Force which is headed by the Prime Minister himself as Chairman and of which Professor Atta ur Rahman is the Vice Chairman.

He asserted that this which will greatly help to alleviate the immediate problems that were being faced by research institutes due to the recent budgetary cuts imposed by the government in view of the present financial constraints faced by the government. The cabinet has decided that this amount of rupees two billion will be distributed by the Planning Ministry in consultation with Prof Atta-ur-Rahman, the official said.

Prof Atta-ur-Rahman has also recommended the government to readjust the total budget of the higher education sector so that about 10 billion rupees is diverted from the development side to the recurring side to meet the immediate operational needs of the universities, the official said and maintained that this should greatly help to address the immediate financial issues faced by the Universities.

Prof Atta-ur-Rahman has proposed that this readjustment should be carried out by the Planning Ministry in consultation with HEC, he said. This has been, in principle, agreed by the Prime Minister and will be discussed by the Planning Ministry with HEC, who will hopefully cooperate in this move, he believed. The development budget cut can be restored later during the year if the fiscal space arises.