ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel has recommended the government to allocate 2-4 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the uplift of science and technology in the country to achieve sustainable economic development and get rid of huge spending on imports.
The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology met here under the chairmanship of Senator Mushtaq Ahmad also decided to prepare a viable plan in this connection based on the recommendations sought from members of the committee, experts and stakeholders to bring reforms in different departments working under Ministry of Science and Technology.
Officials of the Ministry of Science and Technology while briefing the participants on account of allocating 2-4% of the GDP on MoST and 16 attached departments, said that the total GDP of the country for the year 2017-18 was Rs 34,576.1 billion (as per Economic Survey of Pakistan). Two percent of GDP means Rs 691.52 billion and 4% amounts to Rs 1,383.04 billion. They said that the budget for the Ministry of Science and Technology for the year 2017-18 was Rs 8.821 billion and for the year 2018-19 the budget allocated is Rs 10.543 billion. The gradual increase in the budget shows the government’s commitment towards the promotion of science and technology in the country.
Secretary Ministry of Science and Technology, Yasmeen Masood and Additional Secretary Dr Qaiser Majeed Malik along with the heads of different attached departments including Pakistan Engineering Council, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources, Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and others gave detailed briefings to the committee.
The panel recommended that MoST should help spread awareness about new technologies & methods through media and schools for saving water and preserving other sources of energy. The panel was informed that the ministry is actively involved in spreading awareness about new technology for saving water and preserving other sources of energy through seminars, workshops and brochures, etc.
The chairman committee and other members also decided that the plan will be prepared with inclusion of input from all the relevant stakeholders and will be presented to the Prime Minister for approval.
Mushtaq Ahmad said that the committee will first visit all the departments of the ministry one by one, receive briefing from the heads about the issues hindering the development and progress of the department and then prepare the said summary. He observed that science and technology departments faced neglect during the last many years and revitalization of these departments on urgent basis is indispensable for the progress of the country as well as competing internationally.
He said the plan will cover all aspects of science and technology development from primary up to higher level with clear short-term and long-term targets for transformation of the departments, considering the aspects of research and innovation and input from the experts. The committee also decided to write a letter to the Prime Minister for increasing budget of Ministry of Science and Technology.
Ahmad said budget allocated for any department actually reflects the seriousness and priorities of the government towards that particular sector. He proposed that the budget for this ministry should be at least between two to four percent of GDP. He also stressed the need for taking strict actions against mismanagement and corruption.
The committee also decided that a cabinet committee on science and technology should also be formed. The chairman said, “We have a lot of potential and talent in the form of a bulk of youth, dedicated people, researchers and spirit. We have to work with a missionary and national zeal and enthusiasm for betterment of our country.” The meeting was attended by Senators Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, Gianchand, Faisal Javed, Nuzhat Sadiq and Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah and others.
(This news/article originally appeared in Business Recorder on September 11th, 2018)