ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology Tuesday expressed its concerns over the alarmingly low percentage of 0.00025 of GDP spent on science and technology sector and called for increasing the percentage to 4 percent. It also recommended increasing the annual budget of the ministry and 16 organisations working with it.

The meeting was told that for the year 2017-18, the ministry was given a total of Rs 6.394 billion in the head of non-development budget while Rs.2.497 billion as development budget.

The Committee observed that the country is facing acute water scarcity, energy shortage and drastic climatic changes and if urgent measures are not taken, the nation may face disastrous consequences.

Chairman of Committee, Senator Mushtaq Ahmed remarked that reforms in the area of science and technology have made strategic locations and availability of natural resources irrelevant for many countries and success in science and technology has proved to be a decisive factor in progress and development of many countries. He said, “Despite being a nuclear state, we are facing shortfall in electricity and are declared water scarce country.” Members of the Committee were also of the view that the ministry and its attached departments should help spread awareness into the new technologies available for saving water and other resources.

A detailed briefing was given on the institutions working with the ministry including NUST and COMSATS, Pakistan Council for Science and Technology, Pakistan Science Foundation, National Institute of Oceanography, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies, Council for Working and Housing Research, Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority, and National Institute of Electronics.

Parliamentarians called for developing more opportunities for spotting and grooming young scientists from educational institutions and having a ten year plan for the purpose as well as a ten year plan for reforms in the science and technology sector, human resource required, funds and budget and road map of strategic policy. The Committee also directed the ministry to give details of all those eatable products that are being imported in the country and whether they are Halal or not. The Committee also called for having a strategy to avoid misuse of 60% water in the agriculture sector, to make use of the excessive rain water and to make sea water usable through desalination and reverse osmosis

The meeting was attended among others by Senators Nuzhat Sadiq, Gianchand, Faisal Javed Khan, Dilawar Khan, and caretaker Minister for Science and Technology, secretary and heads of a number of organisations working with the ministry.