The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology convened today at Ministry of Science of Technology Islamabad, presided over by Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafiq Tareen.
At the outset, the committee received a comprehensive briefing on the number of employees currently serving in look after charge and on deputation basis in the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA). Additionally, the committee was presented with a list of employees who have not been repatriated despite court orders, along with details of those who have been regularized and those who have not, accompanied by explanations for the latter group's status.
According to the information provided by the Director-General PSQCA, there are a total of 15 employees serving on look after charge, with several more on deputation. A summary for the appointment of a regular Director-General for PSQCA was submitted to the Prime Minister's office, which, in turn, directed the committee to seek approval from the caretaker Minister for Science and Technology. Simultaneously, a summary for the appointment of a Director-General as additional charge is also forwarded to the Prime Minister's office. The committee members emphasized that the caretaker government is not authorized to make regular appointments, as its mandate is limited to day-to-day affairs. After careful deliberation, the committee resolved to maintain the current caretaker arrangement until an elected government is in power, at which point a regular Director-General can be appointed for PSQCA.
The committee was informed that there are currently 321 vacant positions within the department. Committee members raised concerns about the delay in the appointment process. The Director-General of PSQCA attributed this delay to ongoing court cases and employee representations demanding promotions, which hindered new appointments. The committee chairman expressed dissatisfaction with the delay and instructed the identification of promotion quotas and direct recruitment quotas to clear the backlog. Furthermore, the chairman emphasized the importance of adhering to provincial quota rules.
The committee also received a briefing on the substantial deficit in the pension account of Comsats University employees, amounting to billions of rupees. The Rector of Comsats University explained that initially, university employees were enrolled in a contributory pension fund. However, in 2010, the university's board of governors decided to provide pension benefits, deducting 15% of the basic pay from employees' salaries. To date, approximately 1.6 billion rupees have been collected, with an estimated pension liability of 6 billion rupees by 2035, resulting in a 5 billion rupee deficit. The Rector stated that the university lacks the resources to bridge this financial gap. Committee members expressed dismay at the lack of planning by the CUI administration and called for an inquiry into the matter. Consequently, the committee chairman established a subcommittee to address CUI's issues, including those related to pay scales.
Additionally, the committee ratified the appointment of Senator Prince Ahmed Omer Ahmedzai as a member of the Board of Governors of the Pakistan Council of Science and Technology.
The discussion on "The Pakistan Halal Authority (Amendment) Bill 2023" was dropped and matter was disposed off due to the continued absence of the bill's mover. Similarly, the discussion on the starred question posed by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed during the Senate sitting was deferred due to his absence.
The committee meeting was attended by Senators Kamran Murtaza, Sana Jamali, and Dr. Humayun Mohmand, as well as the Secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Director-General of PSQCA.