islamabad - Financial and human resource constraints and undefined legal status has hindered the performance of Pakistan Council for Science and Technology (PSCT) in particular and overall the sector of science and technology in general, informed the Council’s chairman to a parliamentary committee.

Meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Science and Technology was held in the PCST yesterday to assess the working and performance of the Council. MNA Aftab Shaban Mirani, member National Assembly chaired the meeting. Prof. Anwar-ul-Hassan Gilani, Chairman PCST, briefed the members about the history, working, performance, achievements and challenges of the PCST and research and development sector. The chairman told the committee members that the spending on science and technology is only 0.3 per cent of GDP in Pakistan while India spends 1 percent of its GDP on science and technology.

He said the PCST has only 21 technical staff members and it’s hard to lure qualified research and development professionals due to meager salary structure in the government set up. He also informed that due to delays in the approval of council bill, many important decisions are pending due to the unidentified legal status of the body.   Highlighting the achievements of the council, the chairman said Ministry of Science and Technology, Higher Education Commission, Provision of Research Productivity Allowance (RPA), Introduction of Numerical Rating of Scientists, collection and Publication of Nation-wide STI indicators and publishing of important publications on S & T were established and introduced on the recommendations of PCST.

Dr Anwar-ul-Hassan Gilani also informed the participants about the new approved projects including First National Industrial Innovation Survey, National Innovation Award and Establishment of Science, Technology and Innovation of Policy Research Institute (STIPRI). The Participants proposed that the research must be carried out in areas that address problems of the general public and attract public and media attention.

It was also discussed that the meeting of National Commission on Science and Technology that is headed by the Prime Minister could not be held for the past 14 years.

Mirani said the meeting of NCST should be held annually. How can this sector advance  and policy decisions can be taken if the meetings are held after 14 years, he remarked. 

The legislators were told that the Executive Committee of National Commission for Science and Technology (ECNCST) conducted its 6th meeting in March 2016 after a long gap of about 14 years. In that meeting, they recommended to raise the national research and development spending up to 1% and 2% of GDP by years 2018 and 2023 respectively. The committee was briefed that the brain drain due to the unattractive salaries is affecting the research and development work.

The recommendations of the ECNCST would be presented to the upcoming meeting of NCST for approval that will be chaired by the Prime Minister.