Islamabad - The Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology strongly showed its displeasure over handing over of National Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis Policy to any other ministry/department and commented that the policy is the “intellectual property” of MoST and it should not be theft. 

Senate Standing Committee on S&T that met under Sardar Shafiq Tareen further said that the Narcotics Control may have the role of observation but the committee strongly recommends that this initiative is the brain child of MoST so it may be kept with the ministry.

The committee raised the matter of the National Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis Policy which was formulated and sent for approval by the then prime minister for consideration of the federal cabinet; however, the summary was returned by the cabinet division for re-submission after the approval of new federal minister. The secretary, ministry of information and technology informed the committee that the cabinet division in its recent letter had returned the summary with the advice that it may be routed through ministry of narcotics control, ministry of commerce, ministry of national food security and research and cabinet division for further placement before the cabinet; therefore, subsequently comments of the respective ministries are awaited. The committee strongly showed its displeasure over this and commented that hemp policy is the “intellectual property” of ministry of S&T and it should not be theft. The committee also decided to take up the issue with the prime minister directly with the suggestions from this committee. Senator Afnan Ullah Khan commented that the role of commerce ministry is not satisfactory in other export fields but it claims to promote hemp policy. Senator Humayun added that hemp is a commodity which is already having great markets. 

The committee was also briefed on the matter of details of all employees working in National Institute of Electronics (NIE) on deputation, regular and contract basis, with names, CNICs, grade and province identification. The chairman committee showed his displeasure over the non-appointment of the regular heads of the institutes and commented that the ministry is trying to run the buses without drivers. The chairman committee directed the ministry to brief regarding the status of appointments of regular heads of all the institutes and organisations working under this ministry. The chairman committee directed to summon the authorities of the institutes and inquire on the filling of the respective post. Regarding issue of quota, Chairman Committee Sardar Shafiq Tareen questioned as to why as a traditional, the upper grade posts are only given to larger provinces and no upper grade post is given to small provinces including Balochistan. The chairman committee sought report on the roster policy followed for upper grade posts for the last twenty years, in the next meeting.

Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi also raised the question of double salaries after re-employment of retired officers. She said that it has been observed as a trend that government employees take early retirement and resume work later on, by way of which they receive double salary. Senator Rukhsana Zuberi recommended that pension should not be given to employers working again after taking early retirement for their posts. Senator Rukhsana Zuberi also inquired about the “asset data base” and whether which ministry has record of the total assets of various ministries. On the matter of vacant post and reasons of not filling and timeline of advertisement of vacant post, the committee was briefed that there are 212 sanctioned post out of which 125 are filled as regular employees, 1 post is on deputation and 6 on contract, 70 post are still vacant. The committee apprised that the vacant post advertised on 10-01-2021, recruitment process could not materialised due to writ petition filed at Islamabad High Court (IHC); the writ petition has been dismissed and recruitment process is initiated again, after publishing of advertisement recruitment process will be completed within 120 days instead of 45 days.   

The committee was also briefed on the mega-projects initiated by National Institute of Electronics (NIE) and research achievements initiated in the field of electronics and allied technologies during the last five years. The ministry briefed that due to lack of funds, NIE was struggling for the last few years but now this institute is on the track and it’s trying its best to attract projects with the help of its own researchers. NIE is in the tendering process for many bids including the maintenance of machines in ministry of railways. The committee was briefed on the PSDP project on the establishment of Semi-conductor Chip Design Facilitation Centre and Network costing Rs169.500 million with a completion date of 30-06-2023. Similarly, the project of up-gradation of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) fabrication facility is worth Rs93.500 million and completion date is 30-06-2023. 

Briefing on the research achievement, the committee was apprised that the design and development of customised solutions for defence sector and artificial intelligence (AI) based on intelligent vehicle detection system are also included. The committee was briefed that including the research achievement railway out dated old machinery was repaired and maintained which could not be repaired elsewhere. Senator Engr Rukhsana Zuberi said that the ministry rather than becoming a business entity should play the role of monitoring and facilitate the industry by giving them opportunities to grow and invest. She further said that the industry should be commercialised. Commercialisation, she said, is promotion in itself, and investors will come themselves to invest. Senator Humayun Mohmand said that ministry should play the role of that of a “father” for the private sector and enable and empower the private sector to make the industry grow rather than to do business  itself.