PESHAWAR: The University of Peshawar (UoP), one of the premier universities of the country, has not been able to pay pensions to its employees regularly over the last three months due to severe financial crunch.
A retired professor Dr Ijaz Khattak told The News that the university had not paid commutation pensions during the last six months while the monthly pensions were also not paid on time.
"The monthly pension was paid to retirees after the first half of the month," he said. "The retirees remain in a state of uncertainty every month about their monthly pension," he pointed out, adding that the University had no solution to the problem.
They university had asked for grant from the government and Higher Education Commission (HEC) but none has yet made any commitment, he said. Treasurer of the University of Peshawar, Ayesha Salman admitted that the university has been facing severe financial crisis. However, she rejected the claim that all retirees had not received the commutation pension. She added that the retirees who had not received the commutation pension would not be more than 10. She said the university was facing problems in paying the commutation pension as it was a huge amount paid in lump sum. "Currently the UoP has to pay Rs1,600 million as salary and Rs800 million as pension," said said, adding the total revenue generation from the university's own resources was Rs1,293 million.
The question of the financial crisis facing the universities was put to the Minister for Higher Education Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani at the Women Employability and Career Fair at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Women University (SBBWU) in Peshawar on Wednesday.
The minister said the government was aware of the problems the UoP and Gomal University were facing. "We shall not let any university face crisis due to financial constraints. We are giving grants to every university when needed," he added.
He claimed that over-employment in the past had affected the finances of the universities. Mushtaq Ghani said that UoP and Gomal University had a large number of serving and retired employees. The government was making efforts to resolve the issue, he added.
"We are planning to arrange an endowment fund for these universities so they could secure the finances for pensions from the fund," he elaborated. He said they had also asked the universities to put an end to unnecessary expenses. Some universities, he said, had commercial properties, which had not been properly used for revenue generation.
"Take the example of Islamia College which has properties across the province. We can run all the universities of the province with the resources generated through the property of the college," he claimed.
The minister said the government was looking to resolve the legal complication to this effect to enable these institutions to take maximum benefit of their properties. "Nobody paid any attention to the proper utilization of the properties of universities," he added. Mushtaq Ghani said that the academia was not a burden on the university as their salaries was provided by the HEC, adding that supporting staff was a burden on universities.