Punjabi university in financial mess, Punjab govt sets up panel

Punjabi university in financial mess, Punjab govt sets up panel

Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12

The state government has constituted a high-level committee to improve the functioning of the fund-starved Punjabi University, Patiala. The panel will present its findings regarding optimisation of the university’s salary budget, increasing its revenue and rationalisation of staff salaries among other things to improve its overall financial situation.

While Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) Viswajeet Khanna heads the three-member committee, Secretary, Higher Education Department, Rahul Bhandari, and Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, BS Ghuman are its members. It will also suggest review of courses, rationalisation of faculty and irregular appointments.

Salary bill doubled in four years

During a recent meeting chaired by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, the issue of mass recruitment on the campus was flagged. Due to recruitments, the salary budget had increased from Rs199 crore in 2015-16 to Rs425 crore in 2019-20.

The decision has come after the university failed to take concrete steps to put a check on its financial losses and alleged administrative mismanagement. During a recent meeting chaired by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, the issue of mass recruitment on the campus was flagged. Due to recruitments, the salary budget had increased from Rs 199 crore in 2015-16 to a whopping Rs 425 crore in 2019-20. In the same period, the university’s income dropped from Rs 274 crore to Rs 218 crore.

The university has 935 teaching staff, 3,344 non-teaching staff and 321 daily wagers.

Officials also pointed out that the university had not taken any permission for enhancing salaries of guest faculty or for taking loans from banks.

Officials said information regarding the university’s finances, road map for an overhaul and probe reports of alleged previous scams on the campus were demanded from the university through the Secretary, Higher Education.

Terming it as interference in the university’s functioning, employees have written to the Governor and CM’s office.

However, Bhandari said the information was demanded as per the decisions taken during the meetings called by the Chief Minister and Finance Minister. “The government is funding the university; therefore, it is asking questions for its betterment. Moreover, the information being sought is in accordance with the points discussed during the meetings held by the Chief Minister and the Finance Minister with the VC and other officials,” he said.

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