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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to operate school buses purchased by the previous government in 2017 on cost sharing basis, well informed sources told Business Recorder.

Capital Administration and Development Division (CA&DD) defunct, purchased 200 buses for the students of Educational Institutions, ICT under the PM's Education Reform Programme (PMERP).

In the first phase, 70 buses were purchased during 2016-17 whereas in the next phase the remaining 130 buses were purchased during 2017-18 and 2019. Out of 200 buses the then management handed over 4 buses to Special Education and Social Welfare-Department and one to CDA School, 1-9, Islamabad. Accordingly, 195 buses were distributed and operationalised without formal arrangement of drivers, conductors, POL and other repair and maintenance expenditure.

During the process of purchase of buses, Finance Division proposed on September 8, 2017 to run these buses on cost sharing basis which was approved by the then Prime Minister on September 18, 2017.

Recently in a writ petition Islamabad High Court, issued its judgment on June 24, 2020, directing Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) to devise a policy for utilization of the national asset and get it approved from Federal Cabinet.

The operative part of the judgment states "this court directs the Secretary, Ministry of Education as well as Director General, FDE to devise a policy for utilization of buses and a summary be transmitted to the Federal Cabinet for better utilization of this national asset. It is expected from Federal Government to consider these aspects as early as possible before opening of schools."

The Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (FE&PT), initiated the following proposals through Finance Division for consideration of the Federal Cabinet: (i) PPP model- the buses will be out-sourced to third party through competitive process and the assets will continue to be the governments property and an additional Rs 150 million subsidy will be required for the students from Class I-X; (ii) Cost sharing basis - the buses will be operated by School Management Committees (SMCs). The expenditure and revenue will be managed locally by the SMCs with notified monthly rates for students and; (iii) operational through non-development expenditure - Rs 300 million annually will be required for hiring of staff, fuel, repair and maintenance etc, if additional budget is given from non-development expenditure head.

With reference to the proposals the Finance Division and the Cabinet Division were consulted under Rule 8 (1) of the Rules of Business, 1973. Both the Divisions endorsed the proposal.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training (FE&PT) has submitted the proposals for the operationalisation of buses on cost sharing basis, duly endorsed by the Finance and Cabinet Divisions i.e. “the buses will be operated by School Management Committees (SMCs) and the expenditure and revenue will be managed locally by the SMCs with notified monthly rates for students.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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