LAHORE:23 May: The last two installments of the non-salary budget (NSB) funds haven’t reached schools and the Punjab government has asked the administration to transfer the funds by May 24. The NSB fund was designed to allow schools to independently make small-scale purchases, improve infrastructure and hire part-time staff. It is distributed based on a set formula that has been devised to pay the funds to all primary, elementary, high and higher secondary schools in each of districts. The funds were to be distributed quarterly and the NSB funds were divided into installments of Rs3.5 billion for each quarter. As per the budgetary allocation for the fiscal year 2017-18, the Punjab government allocated Rs14 billion for the NSB. The Punjab government had rapidly released two installments of the funds in March and April, before the end of the current government’s tenure. However, the schools had been unable to receive the funds. Expressing concern, the Punjab School Education Department (SED) has raised the matter with District Education Authorities (DEAs) Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all districts of the province. In a letter, the SED said: “It has been observed with great concern by the authority that the districts have not yet transferred NSB to the schools, which causes a great lapse towards development of schools.” The department has asked the CEOs to make transfers immediately. According to the letter, “You are hereby directed to transfer NSB of 3rd quarter which was released on 29th March, 2018 and also 4th quarter which was released on 17th April, 2018). You are further directed to transfer NSB to the concerned schools immediately to avoid any untoward situation.” The letter also warned the CEOs that they would be held responsible if the funds were not transferred by May 24. It stated: “All CEOs (DEA) are requested to ensure transfer of this amount by May 24, 2018, and also provide a certificate duly signed by CEO (DEA) that NSB amount has been completely transferred to the concerned schools. In case of any deficiency, CEO (DEA) will be personally held responsible for this delay.” When contacted, SED Secretary Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik said that the department would ensure that the funds reach individual schools as per allocation by May 24. The Punjab Management and Implementation Unit of the Punjab Education Sector Reform Programme (PMIU-PESRP) had earlier instructed the CEOs that the funds, which had been transferred to Special Drawing Accounts (SDAs), had to be jointly operated by the CEOs and district education officers (secondary) in all 36 districts of the province. The PMIU-PESRP had directed the CEOs to immediately distribute the funds as per allocations and submit its confirmation by April 25. It further directed the officials to ensure effective and efficient monitoring and utilisation of the funds. The PMIU-PESRP also issued guidelines for further allocation and transfer of funds by districts to individual schools and also for the institutes to use the allocation. “District Education Authorities are being provided with school-specific and need-based NSB funds over and above their Punjab Finance Commission share as a conditional grant, which cannot be used for any other purpose,” the PMIU-PESRP told the CEOs in April.Published in The Express Tribune, May 23.