LAHORE - There is no uniform policy of public-sector universities across the Punjab for remuneration because one varsity is paying Rs 8,000 as per day and the other up to Rs 50,000 to eminent members of the statutory bodies, it has been learnt.

A public-sector university syndicate has empowered its vice chancellor to give up to Rs 50,000 per day remuneration to all the members of the statutory bodies. The lack of a uniform policy for all the public-sector universities sparked the University of Gujrat to approve Rs 50,000 to external members of its syndicate and other statutory bodies while all other government universities are paying much less than it.

The amount of remuneration, earlier being paid by all the universities, was up to Rs 10,000 for all the permanent members of the statutory bodies. Now, the UoG has increased it to Rs 15,000 per day for all external members of the university syndicate as well as permanent members of the selection board and other statutory bodies for attending meetings.

While the payment up to Rs 50,000 would be given to prominent speakers, educationalists, persons of eminence, jurors and dignitaries for their productive visits to the university. Higher Education Secretary Irfan Ali, while talking to this paper, said he would look into the matter and take notice of it.

When contacted UoG VC Dr Ziaul Qayyum on the issue, he made it clear that the true picture was not reflected through the notification the university issued on March 16 this year. He said the other notification issued the same day made it clear. He said only prominent personalities would be given up to Rs 50,000 per day as remuneration while all other members would get only Rs 15,000, including MPAs as members of the syndicate. He also clarified that when he took charge as VC, he invited dignitaries like Intizar Hussain, Qazi Javed and others to the university on different occasions and paid only Rs 8,000 to them. “The university administration thought that there should be a reasonable amount to be given to the eminent persons coming from far-off areas,” the VC said. The matter was put in the syndicate meeting which empowered the VC to ascertain the payment as per the profile and exposure of the person visiting the university. He also said that HED Secretary Irfan Ali noticed the matter and asked him not to pay remuneration amounting to Rs 15,000 to the public servants attending the syndicate meetings because they could claim TA/DA as per government rules. The VC said he assured the secretary that the university would not pay the government representatives if the same was conveyed to it in writing.

Other public-sector universities give up to Rs 8,000 a day as honorarium to the syndicate members in terms of TA and DA, official sources confided. Though there was not a very hard and fast rule about this honorarium, many syndicate members never claimed such honorarium terming it an additional load on the public exchequer.

If a grade-19 officer who is additional secretary of a government department like finance, higher education and law attends the syndicate meeting on behalf of secretary could claim TA/DA as per the government rules. But when that officer gets Rs 15,000 per day for attending a syndicate meeting, all other official meetings for which he could claim a nominal amount would become less important for him. The HED secretary ordered the UoG VC not to pay that amount to the representatives of the higher education department who attend the syndicate meeting on his behalf.

Another public-sector university VC, requesting anonymity, said the remuneration up to Rs 50,000 could be justifiable only for dignitaries and personalities of international repute. He said if the same was given to all external members, including MPAs and MNAs, it would be a type of bribe from the university administration for getting their favour on many matters.

He also said the universities claiming to be autonomous bodies should not waste public money and present themselves for audit. “All the public-sector universities should adopt uniform policy regarding payment of remuneration to the members of the statutory bodies” the VC suggested. The practice of increasing benefits for its members by the syndicate would force other universities’ syndicates to increase their honorariums as well, the VC feared. The VCs should decide it after duly consulting the chancellor/governor, the Punjab HEC chairman and the HED secretary to adopt a uniform policy for public sector universities, he proposed.