Punjab enhances annual grant to Panjab University by Rs 7 crore

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IN A major relief to the financially hit Panjab University, the Punjab government in its annual budget on Friday announced an increase of Rs 7 crore in its annual grant to the university. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) too has increased its annual allocation to the university to Rs 207.80 crore from last year’s Rs 198 crore and has promised a 6 per cent increment in the funds from next year.

While presenting the budget for 2017-18 in the Assembly, Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal described the university as a symbol of Punjab’s heritage and pride, and said despite facing “extreme constraint” on the resources, he proposed to enhance the grant to PU. “Over the years the grant to Panjab University has been dwindling to the extent that they are finding it difficult to meet their day-to-day requirements. Today, we also face extreme constraint on our resources. Nonetheless, I propose to enhance the grant to Panjab University from the existing 26 crore to 33 crore in 2017-18,” Singh said.

Punjab had earlier put a cap on its contribution towards Panjab University and would annually provide only Rs 20 crore to the university and Rs 6 crore to its constituent colleges. The university had been seeking revision in the fixed grant for many years and following the student protests in April, Singh had said Punjab would help the university once it came out with a white paper on the state’s finances.

In a similar development, Minister of Human Resource Development Prakash Javadekar too has increased the annual allocation to PU by about Rs 10 crore and approved a grant of Rs 207.80 crore to the university for the year 2017-18. According to a letter written by MHRD to UGC, the Rs 207.80 grant will be the overall amount of Central assistance in the current financial session to PU and it will be the base for estimating the future grant with annual increment of 6 per cent from 2018-19.

“The MHRD, however, reserves the right to reduce the level of Central assistance upon periodic review of (I) the financial position of PU and (ii) Punjab Government contribution being augmented by the State Government,” the letter reads, adding that the “PU should seek concurrence of MHRD/UGC while creating new academic/non-academic posts or filling up of any vacant post in future”.

Last year, MHRD had granted Rs 197.73 crore grant to the university after it had limited the funds to Rs 176 crore since 2014-15. Last month, the university had received Rs 20 crore from UGC as an ad-hoc grant, which is nearly 10 per cent of the funds it had received last year.

Last month, the union ministry had received a report from the UGC on the expenditure and revenue plan submitted by the university following which the union ministry has now taken the decision on PU grant. The ministry has also asked the university to follow General Financial Rules, 2017 which would make the accounts of PU open to inspection by both Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Principal Accounts Office of the MHRD.

“A provision to this effect should invariably be incorporated in the UGC sanction orders releasing grants-in-aid to PU. Further, UGC shall ensure accounts of PU are audited for last three years,” the letter reads.