PESHAWAR: Owing to negligence on the part of the government or financial mismanagement by the administration, the University of Peshawar has once again expressed its inability to pay salaries to its employees for the current month.
The development has created serious concern among the teaching and non-teaching staff, forcing the Peshawar University Teachers Association (PUTA) to convene an emergency meeting to work out the future course of action.
Through a notification issued by the University’s registrar, the employees were informed that the institution was unable to pay full salaries to them due to financial constraints. “It is notified for information of all concerned that due to financial constraints, the university is not able to disburse full salaries to its employees for the month of January 2021. Only basic pay plus personal pay will be disbursed for the same month,” said the notification.
A senior official of the university told The News that the notification means only 30 percent salaries would be paid to the employees as all deductions like house rent and others would be made apart from payment of just basic pay, which is half of their total salary.
When contacted, Yurid Ahsan Zia, registrar of the university, told The News that the university was facing severe financial crunch and it was unable to pay full salary and pensions. He said the university had already written letters to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and Higher Education Commission for a bailout package and was waiting for their response. “The university administration is also thinking over other means to overcome the situation,” he added.
He informed that the provincial government several months back had approved Rs250 million for the University of Peshawar, but Rs150 million only was released and the remaining funds were linked with the introduction of some reforms.
The university had already initiated reforms and some points would be discussed in the next meeting of the Syndicate, he stated.
He said that admission for the master’s degree classes in the university was in progress from which some funds would be collected to pay salaries for the few next months. However, he pointed out that the problem would persist unless enough funds are provided to the university to at least get rid of the burden of pensions.
“We can manage our recurring expenses, but the problem we face is payment of pensions. For the purpose we have already established an endowment fund. If the government could deposit a handsome amount in the fund, the issue of pensions would be resolved and the rest we would manage,” argued Dr Yurid Ahsan Zia.
Newly-appointed vice-chancellor of the university, Dr Idrees, could not be reached for comments despite a few attempts on his mobile phone.
Meanwhile, PUTA has convened an emergency meeting of its executive body today to discuss the situation. “We have offered full services and we demand full salary,” said Dr Fazle Nasir, President PUTA, while talking to The News.
He said the payment of salaries was the basic right of the employees. “The provision of health and education and all services relating to them should be the top priority of the government. The oldest university of the province has been unable to pay salaries and pensions to its employees due to the negligence of the rulers,” he maintained.
The teaching fraternity of the university offered full services even during Covid-19 pandemic, he said, adding, the meeting would work out a line of action. He criticized the government response towards the universities, arguing that it’s attitude showed that it wanted to privatize the universities on the pattern of tertiary care hospitals that had been literally privatized in the name of Medical Teaching Institutes (MTI).
Dr Fazle Nasir argued that the problem did not rest with the university administration, but the government.
However, some other officials of the university blamed the administration for poor management. A senior official, requesting anonymity, told The News that the university was not having dearth of funds, but it was suffering from the worst financial management due to which it was facing such a humiliating situation.
“The university’s treasurer did not know even the basics of financial management, but she has been heading the office for the last several years. The university has made investments worth millions and it was collecting huge amounts from students, but it isn’t able to run its affairs. The inability to pay salaries and pension is a serious issue and if they are unable to overcome it, they should better resign,” the official argued.