An internal inquiry has unearthed irregularities worth Rs. 638 million in payments to the ‘ghost’ foreign faculty of Government College University (GCU) between 2003 and 2013.
In 2003, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had initiated a Foreign Faculty Hiring Program (FFHP). The GCU’s Abdus Salam School of Mathematical Sciences (ASSMS) received a significant share of the funding under this program for hiring qualified teachers from foreign universities for teaching, researching, and supervision of the students.
The inquiry report revealed that ASSMS spent Rs. 638 million from 2003 to 2013 on foreign faculty for hiring 58 foreign teachers. These teachers were hired for various durations ranging from a few months to eight years. Most of the teachers were paid monthly salaries, which were deposited in their local bank accounts.
The funds released from HEC were received and disbursed by the director-general (from 2003 to 2014) Dr. Allah Ditta Raza Choudhry and finance administration director Ejaz Malik.
HEC Also Involved?
Meanwhile, former HEC chairman Dr. Attaur Rehman, former executive director Dr. Sohail Naqvi, and Wasim Hashmi Syed, former FFHP project director, have been blamed for releasing funds from the HEC.
As per the report, most of the foreign faculty members spent from a few weeks to a few months in Lahore but received hefty salaries regularly.
The ASSMS administration, in its correspondence with HEC, demanded funds but never mentioned how many from the faculty were still present in the country or performing their duties.
It was also revealed that the HEC officials had no record of foreign hiring and were not in direct contact with these teachers.
There was no direct communication between the HEC and the foreign faculty members. The email addresses of the faculty members on the application form for the FFHP were those of Dr. ADR Choudary, who was the director-general of ASSMS. Foreign faculty members were not even aware of the offer details and other terms and conditions.
The inquiry team, after contacting the foreign faculty, found out that they did not receive salaries. In many cases, the wages were withdrawn every month consistently.
The inquiry report says:
If the cheques were cashed when the account holder (foreign faculty member) was not present in Pakistan, then clearly the bank officials were also involved in the fraud. Some faculty members, in their replies, have mentioned signing blank papers. If these also include checkbooks, then clearly they knew what they were involved in.
The report concluded that all this was not possible without the consent of ASSMS director-general Dr. Choudary, and director finance and administration Ejaz Malik.
Terming it a huge ‘ghost faculty’ program, the inquiry committee has requested the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to look into the matter.