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Event Title: Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen presides over a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology at Parliament House

Event Date: 2022-09-05

The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology on Monday raised the matter of the National Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis Policy which was formulated and sent for approval by the then Prime Minister for consideration of the Federal Cabinet however the summary was retuned by the Cabinet Division for re-submission after the approval of new Federal Minister. The Secretary, Ministry of Information and Technology informed the committee that the Cabinet Division in its recent letter has returned the summary with the advice that it may be routed through Ministry of Narcotics Control, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of National Food Security and Research and Cabinet Division for further placement before the Cabinet, therefore subsequently comments of the respective ministries are awaited. The committee strongly showed its displeasure over this and commented that HEMP POLICY is the “intellectual property” of Ministry of Science and Technology and it should not be theft. Narcotics Control may have the role of observation but the committee strongly recommended that this initiative is the brain child of MoST so it may be kept with the ministry. The committee also decided to take up the issue with the Prime Minister directly with the suggestions from this committee. Senator Afnan Ullah Khan commented that the role of Commerce Ministry is not satisfactory in other export fields but it claims to promote Hemp Policy. Senator Humayun added that Hemp is a commodity which is already having great markets.

The committee was also briefed on the matter of details of all employees working in National Institute of Electronics (NIE) on deputation, regular and contract basis, with names, CNICs; grade and province identification. Chairman Committee showed his displeasure over the non-appointment of the regular heads of the institutes and commented that the ministry is trying to run the buses without drivers. The chairman committee directed the ministry to brief regarding the status of appointments of regular heads of all the institutes and organizations working under this ministry. The Chairman Committee directed to summon the authorities of the institutes and inquire on the filling of the respective post.
Regarding issue of quota, Chairman Committee Sardar Shafiq Tareen questioned as to why as a traditional, the upper grade posts are only given to larger provinces and no upper grade post is given to small provinces including Balochistan. The Chairman Committee sought report on the the roster policy followed for upper grade posts for the last twenty years, in the next meeting.
Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi also raised the question of double salaries after re-employment of retired officers. She said that it has been observed as a trend that Govt. employees take early retirement and resume work later on, by way of which they receive double salary. Senator Rukhsana Zuberi recommended that pension should not be given to employers working again after taking early retirement for their posts. Senator Rukhsana Zuberi also inquired about the "asset data base" and whether which ministry has record of the total assets of various ministries.   
On the matter of vacant post and reasons of not filling and timeline of advertisement of vacant post the committee was briefed that there are 212 sanctioned post out of which 125 are filled as regular employees,01 post is on deputation and 06 on contract, 70 post are sti vacant, The committee apprised that the vacant post advertised on 10-01-2021, recruitment process could not materialized due to writ petition filed at Islamabad High Court the writ petition has been dismissed and recruitment process is initiated again, after publishing of advertisement recruitment process will be completed within 120 days instead of 45 days.  
The Committee was also briefed on the Mega-Projects initiated by National Institute of Electronics (NIE’s) and research achievements initiated in the Field of Electronics and allied technologies during the last five years. The Ministry briefed that due to lack of funds NIE was struggling for the last few years but now this institute is on the track and it’s trying its best to attract projects with the help of its own researchers. NIE is in the tendering process for many bids including the maintenance of machines in ministry of railways.
The Committee was briefed on the PSDP project on the establishment of Semi-conductor Chip Design Facilitation Centre and Network costing 169.500 million Rs. with a completion date of 30-06-2023.   Similarly, the project of Up-gradation of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) fabrication facility is worth 93.500 million Rs. and completion date is 30-06-2023.
Briefing on the research achievement the committee was apprised that the design and development of customised solutions for defence sector and artificial intelligence (AI) based on Intelligent Vehicle detection system are also included. The committee was briefed that including the research achievement  railway out dated old machinery was repaired and maintained which could not be repaired elsewhere.
The Committee was also briefed on the services/technical trainings. Senator Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi said that the Ministry rather than becoming a business entity should play the role of monitoring and facilitate the industry by giving them opportunities to grow and invest. Senator Rukhsana Zuberi said that the industry should be commercialized. Commercialisation she said is promotion in itself, and investors will come themselves to invest. Senator Humayun Mohmand said that ministry should play the role of that of a “father” for the private sector and enable and empower the private sector to make the industry grow rather than to do business  itself.
On the budgetary allocation of NIE for the last five years, the committee was briefed that 244.000 million rps were allocated and released for the year 2021-22 in the non –development fund.  However the total expenditure remained 243.984. In the year 2020-2021 funds could not be released as per allocation.
In the development fund the committee was briefed that less expenditure took place in the year 2021-22 due to cut by Finance Division with a total allocation and release of 98.80 mn rs, and an expenditure of 93.58 mn rs.
The meeting was attended by Senators Muhammad Humayun Mohmand, Fawzia Arshad, Sana Jamali, Engr. Rukhsana Zuberi and Senator Dr. Afnan Ullah Khan.  Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology and other officials of concerned departments were also in attendance.