The much-hyped Prime Minister’s Scholarship Programme for the talented and deserving students of Balochistan seems to have fallen victim to government red tape as the Federal Finance Ministry has not released the money for students’ fee to the ministry concerned since April last year, Pakistan Today has reliably learnt.
Under the PM’s Scholarship Programme, students from Balochistan have been admitted to good educational institutions of the federal capital and the expenses of the students are borne by the federal government through the Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD).
However, the sources said the CADD Ministry has not released the promised funds to the underprivileged students of Balochistan since April 2015 and the educational institutions concerned have threatened to expel the students if their fees are not cleared.
Sources also said that instead of increasing the monthly stipend for the Baloch students, the government has slashed their monthly payment to Rs 1,200 from the promised monthly amount of Rs 3,000, leaving the poor students high and dry.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Dr. Muhammad Idress, Assistant Education Adviser, said the CADD Ministry has not stopped the release of funds for the Baloch students.
“The funds have been delayed by the Finance Ministry this time around,” he claimed.
Dr Idress said that the CADD Ministry got only 40 per cent of the funds which has been released in two installments i.e December 2015 and January 2016 respectively, each installment was of 20 per cent.
The official expressed optimism that the remaining 60 per cent funds would be released to the students in March and June 2016, respectively.
However, he said that the CADD Ministry is only bearing the expenses of students of batches 4 and 5 while the IT Ministry was funding the students of batches 1, 2 and 3.
He said that under the programme, around Rs 300,000 were spent on each student annually in four installments.
When asked about slashing of the monthly stipend from 3,000 to 1,200 being given to the students, Dr Idress said that he had no knowledge about it because the ministry released the promised funds regularly and it is the school concerned’s responsibility as how it would be distributed further among the students.
CADD Ministry Secretary Khalid Hanif admitted that the funds had been delayed, saying the Finance Ministry had been sitting on the issue for some time now.
The programme for underprivileged students from Balochistan was started in 2011. Under the programme, four boys and a girl who pass seventh grade and are between the ages of 12 and 14 are selected on merit from each of the 30 districts of Balochistan.
Minister of CADD Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry was not available for comments despite repeated attempts to get his version on the issue.