KARACHI- Federal Minister for Science and Technology Prof Atta-ur-Rahman could not take pride in describing latest Rs2 billion budgetary allocation for science and technology in Pakistan.
He told a gathering of national and international scientists at Aga Khan University that he had been assured of improvement in financing science and technology.
During his previous tenure as science minister, Prof Rahman convinced the army government that generous funding for science and technology could produce valuable long-term dividends for economic development.
As a result, the government’s proposed budget for science and technology was raised by 6000 per cent in 2001- an astonishing increase that brings Pakistan’s expenditures for science and technology to 0.5 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP).
“We managed allocating 7.2 billion rupees in science and technology,” Prof Rahman maintained. “To my shock and annoyance, budgetary allocations for science and technology have been sharply curtailed this year.”
Speaking to the scientists assembled at AKU for a seminar on vaccine research and development, the minister said he would expect concrete proposals from the participating stakeholders on behalf of the Vaccine Research and Development Task Force.
“I would like to translate proposals into projects with funding from Islamic Development Bank and Pakistan government,” Prof Rahman said. “We have a long way to go but we have potential to make things happen in vaccine research and production.”
The science minister hoped that the task force would help National Institute of Health to pace up its efforts to produce frontline vaccines required for Expanded Programme of Immunisation (EPI) coverage.
He claimed that he had envisioned a roadmap for information technology (IT) and telecommunication in Pakistan. “We are ahead of India with 1300 towns and cities having Internet connectivity.”
The minister said 100 IT centres and a virtual university, offering BCS in computer sciences, were opened for distant learning and education. “We have opened two 2 TV channels for distant learning and two more will come up soon.”
According to the minister, all public sector universities would get online access to 1000 scientific journals and relevant literature on barter system from November this year.
“Initially this free text service would be available to public sector institutes but it could be extended to private institutes at a later phase.”
Source: The News