PESHAWAR: With no letup in the financial crisis of the public sector universities in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, five of the 31 universities have been unable to pay salaries and pensions to employees for July, causing unrest to the staff.
The universities that have shown inability to pay salaries and pensions include Islamia College University, University of Engineering and Technology (UET) Peshawar, University of Chitral and University of Science and Technology Bannu.
Agriculture University Peshawar paid salaries for July on Tuesday.
“Our university distributed the salary for July and pension on Tuesday. The provincial government provided a one-month salary and pension for July,” Prof Dr Jahan Bakht, the vice-chancellor, Agriculture University Peshawar, told The News.
He thanked the provincial government, ministers and administrative secretary concerned for providing funds to the university to enable it to pay the salary and pension.
The University of Peshawar paid salaries but deducted conveyance allowance from all the employees, triggering discontent among the employees.
They wrote to the vice-chancellor, asking him to release the allowance to the employees at the earliest.
In Islamia College, the teaching and non-teaching employees launched a protest drive on Wednesday to press the university administration to ensure payment of salaries forthwith.
Five of the universities have been unable to pay salaries.
University of Chitral and Bannu University have not paid salaries to employees for two months.
Islamia College could not pay salaries for July.
The UET Peshawar has paid salaries to employees from grades 1 to 16 at its main campus, while the employees of BPS-17 and above could not be paid.
The president of the Federation of All Pakistan Academic Staff Association (FAPUASA) Prof Dr Jamil Ahmad Chitrali said there were several factors for the universities’ inability to pay salaries and pensions.
“The provincial government has not issued grant-in-aid to the universities and the Higher Education Commission has also not released the universities grants”, he added.
“The higher education institutions are facing a grave crisis, which requires discussion and concrete steps. But the minister concerned is not taking the situation seriously”, he said.
Dr Jamil was critical of vice-chancellors of public sector universities. He accused them of not focusing attention on the resolution of the problems faced by respective institutions.
“There was a time when senior academicians used to be vice-chancellors of universities who knew how to manage things”, he added.
“They were acquainted with financial as well as academic management and things used to be done in a smooth manner,” the FAPUASA president argued.
Dr Sadiq Ali of the UET Peshawar was also concerned about the situation. He said: “Now these old universities are struggling to get budgets on a monthly basis to overcome the salaries’ budgets.”
He said the situation was even more serious. The universities have been unable to pay gratuity to retired employees for over three years, he said.
“The retired employees are facing serious problems with receiving pension on time”, he said.
Dr Ijaz Khan, a retired professor of International Relations from the University of Peshawar, said the prevailing situation showed the level of priority of higher education for the decision-makers.
“While employees of all government, semi-government and autonomous institutions have received the increased pays and pensions, those of higher education are not even getting pre-increase salaries and allowances,” he said.