Tumbling ICT R&D Fund Looking Forward for PM’s Bailout

Sinking Research & Development (R&D) Fund is waiting for sanction of the prime minister of Pakistan to rationalize the administrative confusion created over the last few months that has rendered the organization literally paralyzed and non-functional.

As minister in charge of Information Technology Mr Latif Khosa had tried to have full control of the ministry, which has caused many problems for the employees, particularly for the ICT R&D Fund, an organization funded by the contribution of telecom operators to promote research and development (R&D) in the field of information communication technologies (ICT). The assortment of this ministry had been and is with the prime minister.

The ICT R&D Fund is awaiting the nod of PM to resolve key administrative issues created by Mr Latif Khosa. R&D Fund is without a chief executive officer (CEO) since June 2010 and a non-functional Board of Directors (BoD) as six independent directors were ‘de-notified’ on the orders of Mr Khosa on 7 July 2010. Sources reveal that no salaries to the employees of R&D Fund have been paid for last two months and 35 ongoing R&D projects worth Rs500 million are paralyzed due to non disbursement of funds with imminent closure in sight. The ICT Scholarships programme for the rural areas is also at a idle state as more than 1,300 students, many of them from flood-affected areas, enrolled in Pakistani universities have not received their scholarships thus adding to their miseries. Fate of a fresh batch of 500 students from backward areas to be provided scholarships this year also hangs in balance as crippled organization has no decision making setup at present.

The MOIT on 21 July 2010 has submitted a outline for the prime minister in his ability as minister in charge for IT to extend the possession of acting CEO, appointment of Company Secretary and renovation of the Board of Directors but there has been no word approaching from the office of the prime minister, said a frustrated employee of R&D Fund who don’t want to be named here.

Scientific and research community of the country is troubled over the state of affairs of the Fund and lack of concern shown by the MOIT to make the organization functional again. “R&D Fund is the backbone of research in Pakistan and we need to ensure that this institute is not destroyed by the corrupt, short sighted and self centered political leaders otherwise coming generations will not forgive us,” said Dr Shafaat Bazaz, Dean Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering at Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute (GIKI), in an email.

Dr Saad Qaiser, Assistant Professor at National University of Science and Technology (NUST) said, “We have entire teams of very capable researchers awaiting funds on various projects with R&D Fund and look forward to a stitch in time.”

source: The News