With all eyes on the Supreme Court and the fate of the newly elected prime minister, Thursday’s session of the National Assembly was relatively dull, with less than one-fifth of parliamentarians in attendance.
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, the leader of the opposition, and a number of federal ministers were notably missing.
However, Minister for Technical and Professional Training Sheikh Waqas Akram brought some life to the house when he claimed that the Higher Education Commission’s (HEC) management was leaking information to the media instead of taking him on board regarding its financial problems.
Responding to a call-attention notice about the non-release of funds to 14,000 students sent abroad for higher education, he said that the issue was blown out of context, owing to the “wrong priorities” of the management.
“Instead of releasing funds to foreign scholars, the HEC management spent the funds on building new campuses,” he added.
He said that the finance division had released Rs28.9 billion to the HEC against its actual allocation of Rs26.9 billion for 2011-12.
He further added that he was not informed about any bouncing of cheques issued to the HEC by its management.
“If I am informed about the bouncing of cheques through the media, I am not bothered,” Akram said.
“We will support the HEC but the HEC management will have to streamline its priorities,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, Minister for Science and Technology Mir Changez Khan Jamali introduced a bill to amend the Pakistan Engineering Council Act, 1976 [The Pakistan Engineering Council (Amendment) Bill, 2012].
Earlier, in a written a reply to a question by Sheikh Rohale Asghar from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the adviser to prime minister on interior told the National Assembly that 6,010 people are currently on the Exit Control List (ECL).
The adviser said they were added on the ECL on the recommendations of the United Nations, security agencies of Pakistan, the FIA, NAB, ministries, divisions and home departments of provinces.
Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh told the house in a written reply that Rs10, 670 million is to be paid to Balochistan under the Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan during the financial year 2012-13.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.