The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has awarded a total of 218,602 scholarships since its inception in 2002.
This was revealed by Fatah Marri, Member HEC while briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Planning, Development, and Reform which met with Agha Shahzaib Durrani in the chair.
The list included 211,929 local and 6,635 foreign scholarships. Of the total 37,485 scholarships were awarded to undergraduate, 114,799 master, 47,542 MNS/MPhil and 18,738 to Ph.D. programs.
HEC Awards 218,602 Scholarships Since 2002
The senior officials of the HEC informed the committee that HEC had awarded 14,175 scholarships under its ongoing programs for the financial year 2019-20 with an allocation of Rs 6.55 billion under PSDP.
It was also informed that 165, 088 students paid back their fees under Prime Minister Fee Reimbursement Scheme. Besides, 3,000 scholarships were also provided to students of Afghanistan during the last year, adding that 3,000 more scholarships would be provided this year.
The committee was told by Fatah Marri, Member HEC that 18 ongoing scholarship projects with more than 14,175 scholarships are present. These include 11,694 scholarships for PhD, 2,336 for undergraduate, 145 for MS/Mphil.
The committee sought details of all students from Balochistan who have obtained scholarships as many people from other provinces use Balochistan domicile to get scholarships. The Committee recommended introducing special need-based scholarships for female students if less developed areas in the universities of the Federal capital.
The committee also recommended for initiating special scholarship program for the female students from the less developed areas of different provinces, particularly from Balochistan to promote education in these areas.
The committee was further informed that the estimated cost of Nai Gaj Dam escalated from the initial Rs 16.824 billion to Rs 47 billion following changes in design as well as deferred financing by the federal government.
The committee repeatedly asked Project Director and Member WAPDA for justifying the project cost escalation, but they did not satisfy the parliamentary panel. The committee directed Secretary Planning, Development and Reform Zafar Hassan for the inquiry into the matter and report to determine the facts behind the cost escalation in one week.
The original PC-1 cost of Nai Gaj Dam project was Rs 16.924 billion which was later revised to Rs 26.236 billion and which was approved by ECNEC with a reduced scope of work by deleting the essential components i.e. powerHouse, access roads, the pipeline to Manchar lack and project colony.
However, the PC-1 was revised again and submitted by WAPDA & MoWR with the estimated cost of Rs 46.98 billion while additional components included powerhouse, project colony, access roads, the actual cost of spillways and pipeline to Manchar Lake. The project was recommended by CDWP and discussed by ECNEC, however, deferred due to cost-sharing by the government of Sindh.
Secretary Planning informed the committee that 2nd revised PC-1 is pending for ECNED approval regarding cost-sharing by the government of Sindh for 50 percent additional costs over and above the 1st revision of the project. Whereas the government of Sindh has opined that the work component is to be fully funded by the federal government.
Special Secretary Sindh informed the committee that the federal government had the responsibility to provide complete funding for the project. The province has the responsibility of land procurement, settlement and security issues. He further said that WAPDA took the unilateral decision of changing the project design as well as federal government deferred financing led to cost escalation.
Secretary Planning told the meeting that the matter has become quite complex in face of the new water policy and the best solution is to wait for the court decision on the matter which is sub judice. Chief Engineer WAPDA overseeing the project told the meeting that any changes made in the design did not have any financial implications.
The committee members expressed surprise at the contradictory views presented by WAPDA and Sindh Irrigation Department on the decision being unilateral or not and the changes having any financial implication or not. Secretary Planning told the meeting that when too many projects are out in the yearly PSDP list the funds get thinner and spent over a longer period of years. The Committee also noted that the kind of consultants involved in these projects are often found by to be of high caliber that can bring the projects to a meaningful conclusion and the throw forward liability of any project shouldn’t be more than 4 years.
The committee observed that the project should have been completed in three years but not completed in 10 years.
The Chairman stressed the need for setting priority projects looking into the resource availability before initiating the developmental projects and also asked for setting up a proper pattern for financing these projects.
Zafar Hassan apprised the meeting that development projects demand from the provinces was increasing, adding that forward liabilities were also huge.
He said that lack of resources was also the other reasons in the timely completion of these projects that also enhanced their cost. However, he said that the government was formulating policies in this regard to ensure completion of all social sector developmental projects within the stipulated time-frame to avoid any unnecessary delay price escalation.