PESHAWAR: According to the report of the High Level Investigative Committee, the University of Peshawar has declined financially due to unlawful or improper appointments of 2,756 employees over the past decade and extravagant expenses, including payment of many forms of salaries to unauthorised staff.
Because of its high spending, the cash-strapped UoP is reportedly facing a Rs1 billion budget deficit. The 63-page investigative report prepared by the Provincial Inspection Team (PIT), found that last year the UoP administration charged tremendous sums to its workers in various heads for which they are not qualified.
Out of the 2,756 appointments, in breach of the requirements of the Higher Education Commission, the UoP created 1,451 additional positions for administrative and ministerial personnel, thus hiring 1,305 staff without proper establishment of posts and in excess of the sanctioned strength of posts, the report reports.
The PIT has also discovered that university workers earn unauthorised financial compensation in the form of an orderly allowance; MS, MPhil, PhD allowance; holiday conveyance allowance; POL fees; medical allowance; supplementary service allowance; honorarium; house requisition and house subsidy; and residential telephone facilities for employees not doing administrative work, etc.
Probe panel urges govt to refer the matter to NAB
The committee recommended that the provincial government refer the matter to the National Accountability Bureau for sanctions against the officials responsible for unlawful, irregular and unjustified behaviour.
During the review process, the university administrators declined to supply the PIT with the necessary details about the appointments and the award of illegitimate employee allowances.
The investigative report reports that the UoP hired 2,085 workers from different cadres from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2018, and 1,305 of them were beyond and above their authorised budget power.
“UoP was requested verbally and in writing over and over again during the instant probe to justify that the relevant posts were properly sanctioned in the budget along with justification for job creation and also confirm their vacancy at the time of recruitment, but it failed to do so the study says.
The university administration has struggled to justify the recruiting process method, such as work ads, record scrutiny according to eligibility requirements, screening checks, shortlisting of applicants, interview, selection board/committee meeting and merit list, etc.
In its results, the PIT reported that, considering the involvement of 1,305 workers above and above the university administration allotted Rs121 million for the current year for contingent paying staff/daily salaries. Similarly, in addition to an allowance of Rs6.93 million for extra duty workers, it reserved Rs1.38.87 million for contingent paying staff/daily wagers in the financial year 2018-19.
The PIT noticed that the UoP administration adopted the federal pension statute instead of the provincial law, which had a significant financial effect on the budget of the university.
As per the provincial government’s policy, the report says, only officers in BS-20 and above who serve in the civil secretariat and not any offices such as district health offices, principals, college professors and chief engineers, etc., are given an orderly allowance. However, contrary to the regulation, the UoP has allowed all its employees in BS-20 and above to obtain an orderly allowance having an annual financial effect of Rs34,4 million for the 2020-21 financial year.
In addition, a pre-retirement orderly pension was also provided to retiring university officers in BS-20 and above, which had a financial effect of Rs30 million on the UoP during the 2020-21 financial year. “The total financial impact of the orderly allowance during the 2020-21 financial year is Rs64.48 million,” notes the report.
In its report, the inspection team also proclaimed the allocation of MS, MPhil and PhD allowances as unjustified, paid in millions per year by the UoP administration. The UoP has distributed Rs40.62 million for the current year to the heads of MS, MPhil and PhD allowances.
In breach of the policies of the provincial government, the UoP administration has also issued its teachers transmitting and computer allowance.
The study also reports that in the financial year 2019-2020, a sum of Rs5 million was charged unlawfully and unjustifiably as an honorarium. The UoP has authorised its workers, rather than administrative personnel, to provide residential telephone/mobile phone services that are unjustified and contrary to the provincial government’s policy.
It is the responsibility of the university board, union and senate to create a balance between the university’s revenues and expenses, but they have struggled to do so the study reports.
In its guidelines, the PIT notes that the issue of the budget deficit can be addressed only by taking several tough action promptly to get rid of the 2,756 irregular/illegal appointments until all codal formalities have been completed and no additional funds can be made available to the university before the issue has been resolved.
In view of the current poor financial position of UoP, it is highly advised that salaries for illegal workers be promptly terminated, enabling the university to save approximately Rs402.64 million.
It notes that the government can also review the suitability of the requisite amendments to the KP Universities Act, 2012 and the laws of all public sector universities concerning the selection of provincial government officials as vice-chancellors, registrars, treasurers, etc., since they have better knowledge of the institution and financial regulations, management skills and expertise in dealing with governance.