The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology has approved its demand of Rs. 3.6 billion against 49 projects under the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the financial year 2019-20.
The parliamentary panel met with Mushtaq Ahmed in the chair to review Ministry of Science and technology’s budgetary allocation and its utilization and scrutiny of PSDP proposals for the next fiscal year.
The committee was informed that the Ministry of Science and Technology has demanded an allocation of Rs. 3.6 billion for the financial year 2019-20 for 49 projects under the PSDP. The Ministry has demanded Rs. 2.364 billion for 30 new projects and Rs. 1.205 billion for 19 ongoing projects.
The Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms has given Rs. 3.07 billion for 33 projects. This allocation is almost double than the previous year’s allocation of Rs. 1.48 billion.
The Committee, however, noted that even this amount is not enough and the science and technology sector needs to be put on priority.
Committee chairman said that only Rs. 1.5 billion was allocated to the total budget of Rs. 6 trillion for the current financial year.
The committee endorsed the demands of the Science and Technology Ministry while saying that there is a dire need to increase the funds for research and development to meet the requirements.
Parliamentarians expressed serious concerns over the reports of irregularities and mismanagement in the ministry and its departments while saying that their indiscriminate action should be taken across the board against corrupt practices.
Secretary Science and Technology Yasmeen Massod while briefing the committee on irregularities said that several cases have been sent to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for inquiry. The committee observed that no inquiry has been completed in 15 years. The committee was informed that people go to courts against these inquiries, besides there are lacunas in the rules as well.
The committee expressed serious concerns while saying that some items are being mixed in sugar which results in cancer.
Director General Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET) said that the department has promoted renewable energy in the country but did not get a single project under the PSDP during that last 8 years. There is a lack of coordination among different organizations/departments.
The meeting was also told about the compliance status on committee’s earlier recommendations regarding low Research & Development budgets of attached departments, poor departmental structures, ineffective in-house inquiries, capacity issues, industry linkages, pay packages and regularization of contractual employees.
Regarding the public petition of a Professional Engineering Technologist regarding clarification of the term Professional Engineering Works, the Committee heard the petitioners as well as the HEC, PEC, and NTC. The Committee directed HEC to resolve the problems faced by B-Tech graduates and formulate a clear policy in consultation with all those involved.
The Committee also hailed the successful safeguard of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the recent tensions with India. The Committee was of the view that this success, on one hand, has been possible due to the valor of our forces and at the same time, it owes a great deal to invest in science and technology. The Committee appreciated and paid tribute to the experts and scientists who have given this country the nuclear and missile technology.
The meeting was attended among others by Senators Dr. Sikandar Mandhro, Nuzhat Sadiq, Kamran Michael, Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Gul Bashra, Secretary Science and Technology, representatives from HEC, PEC, NTC, and other organizations.