Government likely to purchase 0.8 million laptop resuming PM’s Laptop Scheme

— CDWP to consider the project worth billions of rupees for subsequent approval from ECNEC

ISLAMABAD: As the multiparty led government in the center has indicated its intention to resume the Prime Minister’s Laptop Scheme for students, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and other relevant institutions have reportedly initiated the process of purchasing at least 800000 laptops.

According to reliable sources, the government would purchase laptops to distribute among eligible youth in the country through a meritorious process.

As per the sources, the PC-1 of the project is being prepared for submitting the same to the Central Development Working Party (CDWP) and subsequent approval from the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC), as it involves billions of rupees.

“We are waiting for notification from the CDWP decision and subsequent approval from ECNEC. An advertisement will be made for purchase of laptop as per the approved specifications,” an official source at HEC said.  

According to an official, the government intends to purchase/import at least 0.8 million laptops. In the first phase of the program, at least 100,000 eligible youth would be provided with the laptops.

Though the quality of laptops purchased by the government previously has been an issue, the government wants to distribute the computer in a similar way. The PM’s Laptop Scheme was one of the hallmarks of the federal government of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) in its previous term from 2013 to 2018 in the higher education sector. Thousands of the students associated with degree, post-graduation and research programs of the public sector universities have benefitted from the scheme.

Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also hinted at the resumption of the free laptop program for youth.

While talking to a delegation of students from Harvard University USA last month the PM claimed that the free laptops given to high achievers in PMLN’s previous tenure had not only helped the students to continue their education in the times of COVID-19 but also helped the youth of Pakistan to get a strong foothold in the global freelance market.

Later, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Youth Affairs, Shaza Fatima Khawaja also claimed that the population census of 2017 had shown that up to 50 million people in the country aged between 15 and 29 could earn a lot of money through effective use of smartphones and laptops.

It may be mentioned here that those students who received the laptops previously were found mostly complaining about poor quality of the product. Not only the quality of the electronic item was the issue, but there were multiple issues linked with the product.

The spare parts of the laptops of the particular company were not available in the market. According to a shopkeeper at Dubai Plaza, renowned electronic market in Rawalpindi, claimed that the specific spare parts centers, notified by the government, were previously used to ask students to pay a much higher price, and that too in advance, while asking to wait for at least two to three months citing the reason of short supply from manufacturers.

“While importing or purchasing specific laptops, the government should also ensure the availability of spare parts accessories in the country for repair and maintenance of the thousands of laptops being distributed,” the laptop repairer suggested.   

Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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