NEW DELHI: The Parliamentary standing committee on external affairs has asked the ministry to “pursue” Pakistan’s failure to contribute a single penny towards the running of South Asian University since its inception. The agreed formula was that India would contribute 51.8 per cent towards the operational costs, with Pakistan having the next highest share at 11.83 per cent.
Pakistan has the unique distinction among all SAARC members of never paying its contribution ever for the University. Starting from 2010, Pakistan owes a grand total of $7.8 million (Rs 49.5 crore) towards the project.
The external affairs ministry standing committee, specifically asked the ministry to pursue the matter of Pakistan’s non-contribution “at the SAARC forum and emphasize the need for timely contribution by each of the member states”.
In the first two years of 2010 and 2011, India promptly paid up its dues which were $756,000 (`4.7 crore) and $3 million (`19 crore), respectively. The problem started from 2012, when India paid its dues but fell short of $193.566 (`1.2 crore). The figures furnished by the MEA to the committee show that in 2013, India failed to pay the entire amount of $10.19 million (`64.6 crore). The quantum for contributions received this year also remains zero for India, so far. It has to contribute an enhanced amount of $14.3 million (`90.7 crore) in 2014. India has been facing a deficit problem for the last 2-3 years which have seen cuts across ministries. The ministry told the panel that the enhanced allocation towards the university will be not just towards the commencement of the construction, but also towards its share of operational contribution.
Besides India and Pakistan, the only other country who has not paid their contribution for 2013 and 2014 is Maldives. Afghanistan, the poorest country in South Asia, has dutifully given its contribution for last four years – but has yet to send its allocation for 2014. All the other SAARC members, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka have made their payments.
The new timeline for setting up the campus is 2017. The cost of the construction has been revised to `334 crore from the initial `204.2 crore. MEA reiterated that “government is committed to bear 100 per cent capital costs towards the establishment of the university”.