Provinces demand devolution of HEC, PTDC: Senate committee

Staff Report
Saturday, 23 December 2017
ISLAMABAD: Senate devolution functional committee, on Saturday, recommended that retirement age of university teachers be extended to 65 years and to give them tax rebate of 75 percent; an official statement said.

According to detail, the committee discussed the public petition by the all Pakistan teachers’ associations regarding the implementation of 18th amendment in higher education sector confining role of federal higher education commission (HEC) to formulation of standards and enhancing legitimate role of provincial governments specially in funding and implementation of higher education policy.

They claimed that HEC is encroaching on their rights since the subject is now devolved and the federal HEC has no right to interfere in their matters.

The chairman HEC along with voice chancellor (government universities) from all provinces attended the meeting and submitted their response on the said agenda and told the committee that HEC is abundantly cooperating with universities and looking after the matters after the devolution of powers.

HEC chairman briefed the committee and assured that the only intervention that the HEC does is in matters of maintain the standards and quality of the education on national basic.

Cabinet division secretary informed the committee about their recent council of common interests (CCI) meeting and said that prime minister has designed a special task force (STF) under the chairmanship of the education minister in this regard and this STF has to take prompt action to demarcate the boundaries between the provincial and federal HEC and they are to meet again on 24th December.

Other agenda relating to the devolution of Pakistan tourism and development corporation (PTDC) to provinces and the liquidation of its assets among the provinces that not only translates into the violation of the constitution but also raises question on the implementation of the 18th amendment.

PTDC managing director (MD) highlighted the background of the situation and the legal advisor gave a presentation and adopted the view that although the subject of tourism was devolved, but PTDC is a corporation, which was established in 1971 and registered under the companies act 1911, therefore cannot be devolved, they held that since PTDC being a corporation is still a federal owned company therefore all the assets wherever in the country are federally owned and that their liquidation now will create unequal distribution between the provinces, as some provinces have more assets than others but the committee and all its members were of the view that those assets are of the ownership of provinces and should be handed over to them.

Committee chairman directed PTDC MD to give a detailed briefing on PTDC budget, balance sheets, auditors’ report, working staff and provincial/city wise details of all of its assets.

The chairman committee asked about the pending salaries of the staff, in response PTD MD said that regular salaries are being paid and promised that a few months’ arrear will be paid within the next two months.

Committee was chaired by Senator Mir Kabir Ahmed Shahi, and was attended among other by senators Taj Haider, Kamil Ali Agha, M. Ilyas Blour, Liaquat Khan Tarakai ans Sassui Palijo. Officials from HEC and cabinet division also participated in the committee meeting.