ISLAMABAD - The Finance Ministry on Monday decided to immediately release a sum of Rs9billion to the Higher Education Commission to steer it out of a severe financial crunch it was in.

In another important development, Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on the special recommendations of Finance Minister Saleem H Mandviwalla approved 20 per cent special pay for employees of the federal secretariat.

HEC chairman Dr Javed Leghari called on the finance minister, and discussed with him the various issues regarding the commission’s financial matters. Manviwalla told the HEC chief that all necessary funds to overcome the current financial problems being faced by different universities would be immediately released to the HEC. Sources said the Finance Ministry agreed to release a sum of Rs9billion to the education commission immediately.

Of the said amount, Rs3billion have been earmarked for developmental expenses, Rs3billion for running of expenses, such as payment of utility bills and purchasing fuel to run campus bus services, and the remaining for paying salaries and pensions.

It may be mentioned here that the HEC has been faced with a severe financial crisis, as the Finance Ministry failed to release to it the third quarter amount for the ongoing fiscal year 2012-2013. Sources said the Finance Ministry had to release the quarterly amount of Rs12billion to the HEC for the current fiscal year 2012-13; however, it had not received the due installment. Due to the unavailability of funds, many varsities were unable to pay salaries to their employees.

Speaking to the HEC chairman, Mandviwalla said the incumbent government was committed to promoting higher education in the country. “The HEC has been and will continue to enjoy full patronage and support of the government for provision of quality higher education to the nation. No stone would be left unturned to ensure progress in the field of higher education,” he added.

The government, the minister said, was concerned over the issue of shortage of funds with universities. The HEC chief thanked the finance minister for his support for the promotion of higher education, and expressed his gratitude for immediate release of the funds to the HEC. The government meanwhile approved a 20 per cent special pay for employees of the federal secretariat.

According to a statement issued by the Finance Ministry, "Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on special recommendations of the Federal Minister for Finance, Senator Saleem H Mandviwalla, has approved 20 per cent special pay for secretariat employees to ensure uplift of their living standards."

The statement said the government was determined to facilitate the masses in general and federal government employees in particular. Over the past five years, the federal government increased salaries of its employees by over hundred per cent. Finance Minister Mandviwalla has been trying his level best to increase salaries of employees of the federal government to improve their living standards.