ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology has shared a list of Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) officials who are facing corruption inquiry for over a year and asked the ministry to suspend them before the next meeting.
The committee met under the chairmanship of Senator Mushtaq Ahmed on Thursday. Briefing on the suspension of officers, the PSQCA secretary said that many inquiries have been resolved except two persons and both were suspended. To this, the committee chairman directed the ministry to prepare PSQCA employees’ inquiry report itself.
“I will not name those who, as per the available list, are facing inquiries at Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as their names will be highlighted in the media. Better you inspect yourself and suspend the officials who are actually facing inquiries at the anti-corruption watchdogs before next meeting,” he said.
He said that if irregularities and unfair means are being reported at PSQCA, it means those holding higher positions in the organisation for years are responsible. When secretary PSQCA Umar Kazi tried to defend an official who is allegedly facing inquiry at FIA, Senator Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, said that protecting each other at the organisation is actually the root cause of failure of the institution.
“I wish to see a meeting of Senate committee without PSQCA on the agenda,” he said, adding since that MoST is not taking steps to resolve issues related to the organisation, the senate body was including it in the agenda of every meeting.
The senators also expressed displeasure over the absence of Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry as he had assured the committee of compliance in the previous meeting.
The meeting was attended by Senators Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Gian Chand, Hedayatullah and other officials from MoST.
Later, while talking to media, Senator Mushtaq said if the MoST fails to comply, the Senate Body will write to NAB and FIA to share details of the pending inquires related to officials of MoST and its attached departments.
Earlier in the meeting, the senate committee was apprised that 11 sub-ordinate organisations of the MoST have been running without heads for a long time, causing severe difficulties in pursuance of their official and administrative matters.
Due to non-appointment of permanent heads of those organisations, the officers’ promotion were also facing delay, MoST secretary informed the Senate body.
The performance of majority of the departments working under the ministry was not up to the mark as officers from other departments were given the charge of those organisations, he said.
The organisations without its chairman include Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR), Pakistan Council for Science and Technology (PCST), Pakistan Science Foundation (PSF), Pakistan National Accreditation Council (PNAC), Pakistan Council for Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET), National Institute of Electronics (NIE) National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Council for Work and Housing Research (CWHR), STEDEC Technology Commercialization Corporation of Pakistan (Private) Limited and Pakistan Halal Authority (PHA).
A summary regarding the regular appoints of the said organisations had already been moved to the federal cabinet for approval, the secretary informed.
Reviewing the budgetary allocation, the committee was informed that Rs1,300 million have been allocated under Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for the fiscal year 2019-20 while, Rs6,107 million have been allocated for task force projects.
There were 23 projects approved by the ministry while eight task force projects are in the approval phase.
Last year, the ministry’s budget was Rs1,487.7 million out of which Rs716 million were released and Rs538 million were utilised.
The committee chairman directed the ministry to come up with the proposals for useful utilisation of the funds so that the Ministry of Finance and Planning can be consulted in this regard. He asked the Science and Technology Task Force to present its progress report after every six months before the committee and urged them to work on water agriculture issues being faced by the country.
Senator Kamran Michel said that Pakistan has a lot of talent and stressed the need to review the policies for strengthening and facilitating such people.
The MoST secretary said research work was being conducted in every institution but due to inter-departmental rift, it was not yielding fruitful results.
Regarding the funding issue of 250 destitute children, the COMSATS rector told the Senate body that the business of the institution has declined due to non-payment of various universities.
The committee was told that with the provision of Rs2 million, the problems of 250 children could be resolved, to which MoST secretary and COMSATS rector assured the members of immediately releasing the funds.