ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) Secretary Nasim Nawaz has suggested the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology to focus on discussing important issues instead of priorising illegal appointments and promotions by making them agendas during committee meetings.
During the committee meeting that took place here on Monday, two of the agendas were regarding illegal appointments and promotions in various departments of the ministry.
Chaired by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, the meeting was attended by Senator Gul Bashra, Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Senator Hidayatullah, Senator Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo, as well as senior officers from COMSATS University and the MoST.
Secretary Nasim Nawaz suggested for discussions on individual issues like promotions, the illegal appointments to be avoided as there were other relevant forums to take up such issues. “There are rules, regulations to deal with such cases,” he said.
However, his suggestion was rejected by the senators who said that issues related to illegal appointments and promotions had been pending for over 17 years. “We are not particularly interested in discussing these issues here but illegal activities in the ministry along with complaints of affected people force us to take up such matters during the meetings,” Committee Chairman Mushtaq Ahmed said.
“How can we ignore the illegal activity of appointing BS-17, 18 officers illegally at Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA),” said Senator Mandhro.
The committee later deferred the two agendas for next meeting.
Interestingly the secretary MoST was supposed to submit his reply over pending cases at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) related to “corruption, malpractice, misuse of authority/illegal appointments/ promotion/violation, recruitment process/irregularities/illegal promotion without DPC in BPS-19 holding two posts, manipulating/tempering of records, illegal/irrelevant training abroad and also assets beyond known source of income”.
Earlier, former MoST secretary Yasmin Masood had also made excuses of loopholes in law and regulations when the senate body had highlighted corruption cases in the ministry.
It may be mentioned here that at the beginning of the meeting, the committee took strong notice of the absence of Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry and asserted that the meeting will be called off in protest and privilege motion will be moved if he fails to attend the next time.
“We only find Fawad Chaudhry on television channels. He usually ignores the committee meetings of parliament,” said Senator Sassui Palijo. The committee later decided to give strong message to the minister in case he neglects the committee next time.
“We, in protest will not hold meeting of the committee,” the committee chairman said.
Further, COMSATS rector gave a briefing to the members on the status of the university and its challenges.
The committee was informed of the university’s academic courses and distribution. The Organogram was discussed in great detail as well. It was observed that student enrollment had vastly increased from 277 in 2000 to 36,599 in 2019. Faculty and staff strength had increased considerably as well. Currently, the total faculty includes 2,792 staff members.
In terms of achievements the committee was informed that the university has been involved in research and development of military hardware.
It was also revealed that the university stands 14th amongst South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries which is a great achievement. It has received several awards including two Global Good Governance Awards and 15 National Civil Awards.
While discussing budget issues it was revealed that 80 per cent budgets is expended in salaries, HEC support fund cut was observed to impact Rs252 million, inflation annual impact was estimated to be Rs575 million. GOP allowance has been Rs70 million.
Senator Sassui Palijo said that a recommendation must be sent to the ministry and a resolution must be passed in this regard.
Senator Sabir Shah said that the budget cut issue must be taken up solely in the next meeting. He recommended for the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Education to be summoned. It was asserted that issues of other science universities including National University of Sciences & Technology (NUST) must be discussed as well.
Senator Mushtaq Ahmed declared that a single agenda meeting on budget will be conducted and recommendations of the VC Committee on the issue must be submitted to the Science and Technology Committee.