Body passes ‘Pakistan Council for Science & Technology Amend Bill’

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology unanimously passed the bill titled “The Pakistan Council for Science and Technology (Amendment) Bill, 2023.” Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen chaired the meeting of the committee held at Parliament House on Tuesday.

The mover of the bill, Senator Shahadat Awan stated that the aim was to maintain Parliamentary oversight over the Council by making it mandatory for the Council to submit an annual report to Parliament. While discussing the implementation status of recommendations, the Secretary for MoST stated that the ministry has complied with the committee recommendations, and its report has been submitted before the committee.

Furthermore, the committee was briefed on the pending promotions in all departments, especially PSQCA, and the reasons for the delay. Secretary for MoST, Ali Raza Bhutta, mentioned that promotions were pending due to the absence of a regular Director General and inter-departmental disputes in PSQCA.

However, the ministry has directed PSQCA to expedite the pending promotion cases. Regarding vacant posts, Secretary MoST stated that the ministry has scrapped the ongoing process due to committee suspicions, and new posts will be announced after analyzing the required workforce of PSQCA. The committee recommended the ministry to continue recruitment after addressing all the lacunas.

The committee was briefed on the terms, conditions, and tenure of the existing DG Pakistan Hilal Authority. Secretary MoST informed that the current DG, Akhtar Ahmed Bughio, was appointed on April 10, 2023, for a term of three years, and its period was extended in May 2023 for further three years, entitled to all perks and privileges of Grade 21 of Civil services.

Moreover, the Senate body deliberated on the recovery of Rs. 2.5 Million in unjustified benefits from DG PHA. DG PSQCA stated that the initial inquiry suggests that money was transferred without following prescribed rules.

However, a detailed report will be submitted to the committee upon the conclusion of the investigation. In addition, the committee discussed the inquiry conducted on the illegal appointment of Ali Bux Soomro and Khalid Ahmad Bulbani in PSQCA. DG PSQCA informed that, according to PSQCA records, no inquiry has been conducted against the mentioned individuals, and they were recruited following all the required procedures.

However, Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen stated that a copy of an inquiry has been submitted before the committee, indicating that an inquiry was initiated against the said individuals for illegal appointments. Secretary Most maintained that the ministry will investigate the matter and submit its report to the committee upon conclusion.

In attendance were Senator Dr. Muhammad Humayun Mohmand, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi, Senator Dr. Afnan Ullah Khan, Senator Muhammad Asad Ali Khan Junejo, Senator Shahadat Awan, Secretary MoST Ali Raza Bhutta, DG PSQCA and other senior officers of relevant departments were also in attendance.