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Education budget in Pakistan decreased despite promises
Publication Date : 05-06-2014
Although the government has been claiming that it has given importance to education sector and that the education budget has been increased, it is just a game of figures.
In real terms, the federal education budget, announced on June 3 has been decreased by over 1 billion Pakistani rupees (US$10 million). And if inflation is accounted for, it is surprising to note that the education budget has been decreased by 11 per cent.
Due to this, it seems that the allocation of four per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) for education will remain a distant dream, Dawn has learnt.
It is pertinent to mention that an estimate of 80 billion (US$800 million) Pakistani rupees was announced for education in the fiscal budget of 2013-14. And during a revised estimate, a budget of 87.8 billion (US$878 million) Pakistani rupees was allocated.
However, on Tuesday, a federal education budget of 86.4 billion Pakistani rupees (US$864 million) was announced, which is 1.6 per cent less than the revised estimate of last year.According to Economic Survey 2013-14, the inflation was 8.7 per cent. So, if inflation rate is deducted from the education budget, an overall decrease of 11 per cent will be observed and the budget becomes equal to 78.9 billion Pakistani rupees (US$789 million) in real terms.
Renowned education researcher Ahmad Ali also agrees that the education budget, in real terms, has been reduced by 11 per cent.
While talking to Dawn, Mr Ahmad said if the federal education budget was examined, it would be interesting to know that 73 per cent of the budget has been allocated for Higher Education Commission (HEC). “9.38 per cent of the education budget has been estimated for the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD), 5.1 per cent of the budget has been estimated for the Ministry of Education and Training, while 4.62 per cent of the budget has been allocated for educational institutions working in cantonment areas,” he said.
For the financial year 2013-14, 7.25 billion Pakistani rupees (US$72.5 million) were allocated for CADD, whereas in 2014-15, Rs8.1 billion have been estimated. There is an 11.7 per cent increase on paper.
Mr Ahmad said that last year 22 million Pakistani rupees US$22,3463) were allocated for the development budget but this year 749 million Pakistani rupees (US$7.6 million) have been estimated for the development budget of CADD.
“This is an unprecedented increase and I doubt whether CADD will be able to utilise such a huge amount, because the increase in development funds is 3,248 per cent.
“It will be important to ensure timely release and effective utilisation of the allocated funds,” he said.
“Moreover, the current or recurring budget has been increased by only 2.2 per cent. This budget is divided into two portions, one is for salary and other is non-salary.
“Repair work of buildings, monitoring of quality of education, payment of utility bills and fuel of buses, along with other expenses are done from non-salary budget, so it should be increased,”he added.
Last year, 57.59 billion Pakistani rupees (US$576 million) were allocated for the HEC. However, in the upcoming financial year 63 billion Pakistani ruppes (US$630 million) have been estimated.
“An amount of 43 billion Pakistani rupees (US$430 million) has been fixed for current expenditure and 20.06 billion Pakistani rupees (US$200 million) for development expenditures. Considering the growth needs of HEC, the allocation for development expenditure seems insufficient,” Mr Ahmad said.
An official of the Ministry of Education and Training said that smaller provinces have been neglected in the 2014-15 federal budget for higher education sector.
“As many as 54 new projects, worth 3.27 billion Pakistani rupees (US$32.7 million), have been proposed in the budget.
However, only four of them have been approved by Central Development Working Party (CDWP),” said Ahmad Ali.
“There are 12 projects for Punjab in the budget, but only one of them is for southern Punjab,” he said.
According to the budget, 30 per cent of the total funds released for 154 development projects could not be utilised in the fiscal year 2013-14. 14.787 billion Pakistani rupees (US$147.9 million) were released and 10.351 billion Pakistani rupees (US$103.5 miilion) were actually used.
“Interestingly, National Fertiliser Corporation Institute of Engineering and Technology (NFCIET) Multan, established in 1985, and National Textile University Faisalabad, established in 2002, have been included among the newly established universities,” he said.