ISLAMABAD -  The Ministry of Science and technology has failed to convince parliamentarians to convert a public sector organisation “The Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies (PCRET)” into an autonomous body.

During National Assembly Standing Committee meeting, the sub-committee’s report constituted under the chair of Aftab Shahban Mirani was discussed and after failing to reach the consensus committee asked the science ministry secretary to hold a meeting with all stakeholders to reach a consensus on the amended draft of the Bill. The ministry was further advised to remove lacunas, if any, so that the committee could consider them accordingly. The committee deferred the report on the Bill till its next meeting.

Established under the Ministry of Science and Technology, with a mandate to develop alternative and renewable energy technologies in the country, PCRET badly failed to deliver even a single project in last 16 years. In order to make the organisation productive, the ministry proposed a unique solution to the problem. They suggested changing status of the organisation and recommended to make the public sector company an autonomous body. The argued that since the council failed to deliver and it has no capacity and human resource to perform in near future, so it should be made autonomous.

After moving the bill, the employees approached the committee and convinced them that the move would be fatal for their future. They would lose benefits and perks, including pension, if organisation was made an autonomous body. During the previous meetings, PCRET Director General Dr Baqer Raza told the committee that lack of funds was stopping his organisation from growing. He said most of the Rs170 million the council will receive will be spent on non-development expenses like utility bills and salaries and only Rs16 million will be spent on research and development.

Raza said the council’s performance was further restricted by the lack of expert employees who have left for better jobs elsewhere and the ban on induction from the last 15 years. The ministry argued that in new proposed bill it is mentioned that that employees of the dissolved council would be transferred to the council or they can opt to remain civil servants under the Civil Servants Act 1973. The employees who opt to remain civil servants would be entitled to all privileges and facilities of the federal government.

After meeting the employees, most of the members of the committee were of the view that the fate of over 200 employees should be safeguard. If the organisation continuously failed to deliver since last 20 years, why not the ministry took action against the non-performing officials under the government servants’ efficiency and discipline rules 1973, asked Committee Chairman Tariq Bashir Cheema.

During background interviews with the committee members it was learnt that the Bill was solemnly moved to punish one of the directors, who refused to fulfil personal demands of the ministry official. The members revealed that the PCRET staff claim the move is an attempt to punish some employees who refused to obey illegal demands from high-ups.

On the other hand, the ministry staff insisted that it was not personal and they had moved the Bill in national interest, adding that a huge organisation delivering nothing was just a burden on national exchequer.