Pakistan is spending an alarmingly low budget on the Science & Technology sector of the country, that is only 0.00025 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In a briefing held recently, the Senate Standing Committee on Science & Technology led by Chairman Senator Mushtaq Ahmed has expressed grave concerns over the budget allocated for Science & Technolgy. The Committee has also recommended increasing the annual budget of this crucial sector to four percent of the GDP. The briefing was attended by the caretaker Minister for Science & Technology, heads of organizations associated with the Ministry and various senators.
In the fiscal year of 2017-18, the Ministry of Science & Technology was provided with a budget of PKR 2.497 billion under the head of development budget and PKR 6.394 billion for non-development projects. During the briefing, the Standing Committee offered to increase the budget from PKR 7 billion to PKR 10 billion. However, the former Secretary of Science & Technology, Fazal Abbas Makeen, declined the offer stating that the current lack of human resource will make it difficult for the Ministry of Science & Technology to effectively utilize the budget to its full capacity.
The Committee also observed that the country is on the verge of water scarcity and acute water shortage owing to drastic climatic changes. Therefore, research and development are essential for taking measures to protect Pakistani population from such perils. The Chairman of the Committee also observed how various countries have progressed in science and technology, overcoming limitations caused by their location and lack of natural resources. He remarked,
“Despite being a nuclear state, we are facing shortfall in electricity and are declared water scarce country.”
In the same meeting, a detailed briefing was also provided to the Committee about the institutions associated with the Ministry. These institutions include:
- National University of Science & Technology (NUST)
- Pakistan Science Foundation
- National Institute of Oceanography
- Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources
- Pakistan Council of Renewable Energy Technologies
- Council for Working and Housing Research
- Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority
- National Institute of Electronics
Parliamentarians who attended the briefing emphasized on the need of developing more opportunities for young scientists. They urged the Ministry to develop a 10-year plan for this purpose and reforming science and technology sector. The plans are asked to entail comprehensive details such as human resource requirement, the budget required and a blueprint for strategic policy.