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Tuesday Jul 07 2020

Bilawal Bhutto slams PTI govt over cut in HEC funding

The PPP chairman warns that the reduction in HEC funding will have real consequences in the times of pandemic. Photo: Geo.Tv/File

Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday lambasted PTI-led government for its "anti-education agenda" and warned that curtailment in funding of Higher Education Commission (HEC) would lead to real consequences in the times of global pandemic.

Taking to Twitter, the PPP chairman criticised that the incumbent government had reduced HEC funding in its last budget and has refused to significantly raise funding in this year's budget too.

"The PTI's consistent assault on HEC funding is having very real consequences at a time medical universities are at the frontline battling #covid. PTI cut HEC funding in last budget & refused to significantly raise funding in this years budget," the PPP leader wrote on Twitter.

Rebuking government's move of not increasing the funding of HEC during the times of pandemic, Bilawal said that the authorities have not even bothered to support medical universities and teaching hospitals in hard times when the country is suffering from the health emergency.

"This means students fees will continue to shoot up & staff salaries will be cut, eventually some universities will be forced to shut," he lamented.

Last month, the governing body of the Higher Education Commission (HEC) had deplored the sudden cut in the higher education budget by another Rs5.90 billion from the committed indicative budget ceiling of Rs70 billion for the fiscal year 2020-21, The News reported.

The commission had also emphasised that the move will dismantle the country’s higher education system by forcing the shutdown of universities, which are already suffering from historically unprecedented budgetary shortfalls and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

The HEC had demanded an allocation of Rs104.789 billion as a recurring grant for the fiscal year 2020-2021.

However, the government promised to allocate Rs70 billion and the same was also shared by the HEC in a press release recently. Nonetheless, when the government presented its budget last month, it turned out that the commission had to face a further cut of Rs6 billion.

This came as a surprise for the Commission itself which, according to the sources, has now decided to take up the same with the government seriously.