ISLAMABAD    -   The Senate Standing Committee on States and Frontier Regions Friday directed the Ministry of SAFRON to call a consultative meeting of Higher Education Commission and Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) to sort out the matter of increasing the quota of students from erstwhile FATA in different medical universities and colleges.

The committee had earlier said that the quota of students from erstwhile FATA should be doubled in different medical universities and colleges across the country.

However, the meeting was told that the quota of engineering students has been doubled from 108 to 216 by the Pakistan Engineering Council and the quota of other disciplines has been increased from 1719 to 3192 seats after the March 2017 cabinet meeting decision.

The meeting was held with Senator Taj Muhammad Afridi in the chair here at the Parliament House.

The meeting also discussed the matter of regularization of project employees of health department in former FATA. The meeting was informed that the number of projects and contract employees has been sorted out. Around 1900 employees for 30 projects are awaiting regularization and health department does not have any objection to the process but the decision requires a piece of legislation to support it, the KP health department officials informed.

They further said a summary for the required legislation will be moved to be further taken up by the provincial assembly after vetting by the law department. The committee gave two-week time to move the summary and asked for a report once it is done. The committee called for treating the employees of erstwhile FATA the same manner as the contract employees of KP were treated after the merger.

While discussing the Annual Development Programme of tribal districts for the current financial year, the meeting was informed that total fund allocated for these districts is Rs 103.038 billion with local component of Rs 24 billion, foreign assistance of Rs 20.03 billion and tribal decade strategy of Rs 59 billion. It was told that the local component comprising of ADP has been consistent at Rs 24 billion for the previous two financial years. In the financial year 2017-18, Rs 20 billion out of 24 billion were utilized while in 2018-19, complete Rs 24 billion were released and utilized. In the current financial year, Rs 4 billion out of 24 billion rupees have been released.

The committee expressed concern at the excessive throw forward of 64.863 billion and recommended lowering the number of projects in each financial year so that these were to be completed. The participants were informed that the ADP has 884 ongoing and 134 new schemes and the plan is to complete 274 schemes this year. 

The meeting also discussed supply of electricity to small industries in erstwhile FATA and PATA (Provincially Administered Tribal Areas) including crush, soap, stone, and marble industries.

The chief executive officer Tribal Electric Supply Company (TESCO) told the meeting that 36 grid stations came under the company of which 19 were of TESCO and 17 were shared with Peshawar Electric Supply Company (PESCO).

TESCO has a total of 442,671 consumers out of which 402,040 are domestic consumers and most of them are running on subsidy without paying electricity bills. Industrial consumers of TESCO are 4,247 in number and out of these too, many are unregistered, the officer said adding that unregistered meters and non-regularized loads were the biggest factors for TESCO’s losses.

The committee also heard the local industry representatives and asked TESCO and industry representatives to hold a meeting and reach a solution on metering, load management and payment of bills in the area so that the industry also survives and electric supply company also maintains its business.

The committee was also given briefing on the public petition regarding difficulties of Afghan refugees residing in Pakistan and steps taken in form of issuance of their registration cards, and driving licenses, opening of bank accounts, and admission of their children in schools. While discussing a question regarding establishment of a land settlement unit for carrying out land settlement in FATA after its merger with KP, the committee was told that PC-I has been prepared for the land settlement.