ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) has clarified that disbursement of funds to the universities has been made in a transparent manner in accordance with the guidelines issued from time to time by Finance Division and Planning Commission of Pakistan for distribution of funds for development projects. Monitoring of these projects is a regular feature to ensure proper utilization of funds and successful project completion.
A news item that appeared in a section of the press on Friday gave the impression as if HEC does not adhere to the set procedure and has setup a parallel system for distribution of funds for development projects. Contrary to the impression, each development project of universities and HEC is currently being operated through separate Assignment Account.
Since the development budget of HEC was initially (until FY 2019-20) reflected in the Pink Book of the Finance Ministry as one liner budget, therefore HEC was allowed to open one Assignment Account for all the projects of HEC/Universities. During these years, funds were released to HEC/Universities for their development projects in single Assignment Account No 2167 with the approval of Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives and Finance Secretary.
However, HEC further disbursed the funds to universities’ projects in their NBP accounts with approval of the Ministry of Finance and the Controller General of Accounts.
Furthermore, the Monitoring Division of HEC and Projects Wing of Planning Commission have been monitoring the projects and ensuring the implementation of the projects while adhering to the PC-Is and other government rules and guidelines. The Planning Commission also conducts quarterly and full year review meetings of the development projects and only after satisfactory utilizations further funds are released.
After enactment of the Public Finance Management Act in FY 2019-20, Principal Accounting Officer was allowed and allocated a separate Demand for Grant (Demand No.) both for development and non-development grants. The development budget was allocated to each project under separate ID/Cost Centre in the jurisdiction/accounting circle of main AGPR Islamabad. The procedure for disbursement of funds to projects of universities was continued.
However, after issuance of the new procedure of ASAN Assignment Account in FY 2020-21, HEC started the process of its implementation/compliance and instructed all universities for enforcement. During FY 2021-22, HEC, in consultation and prior approval of Ministry of Finance, implemented the Assignment Account procedure in a phased manner. The Pubic Account Committee discussed the audit observation about earlier procedure adopted prior to enactment of the Public Finance Management Act in FY 2019-20, which was clarified by HEC. Accordingly, in the current financial year 2022-23, new procedure is 100% implemented and each development project of universities and HEC is being operated through separate Assignment Account.