ISLAMABAD -Despite the instructions of the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani, the Finance Ministry has been unable to grant timely and full release of allocated funds to the Higher Education Commission (HEC), thus disobeying the orders of the chief executive of the country. The premier had issued these directives along with other orders to the Finance Ministry at a presentation by the HEC. A presentation was given by the Higher Education Commission to the Prime Minister on May 12, 2008 at the PM's House wherein he had directed for the restoration of a cut of Rs. 5 billion made in the recurring grant of the financial year of 2007-08 for universities and sustain the recurring budget requirement of Rs. 23 billion for the financial year 2008-09. The Finance Ministry was also asked that it should make releases of development and recurring budget of fourth quarter on priority basis. The prime minister had directed that Foreign Ministry and its Missions abroad should make concerted efforts to secure additional funding for higher education. But despite the directives of the head of the state, the Finance Ministry remained unmoved and the budget cut of 5 billion rupees that was being imposed on the Commission in the last financial year could not be released. Though the government released the recurring budget of first and second quarter of this financial year but in case of development budget, the Commission received only 15 per cent in the first quarter and 7.5 per cent in the second quarter. It is worth mentioning here that the government released the development as well as recurring grant of the second quarter in the last month of the quarter with the delay of two months. The unexpected cut in the Commission's budget badly affected the universities which had no savings and even the salaries for the months of April and May 2008 had been paid after withdrawing money from Pension Funds, Students Fund, Reserve Fund and taking loans from banks. The universities have been protesting against the situation as they have gone bankrupt. The delay in the release of funds also caused difficulties for the students studying abroad under the foreign scholarship programmes of the HEC. "Finance Ministry has been simply denying releasing the funds allocated to HEC. We are treated as if we are the enemies of the country. It seems that a conspiracy has been hatched up against the higher education sector of the country," said a senior official of the Commission requesting anonymity.