Draft of PMC ordinance was shared with us: PAMI

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Association of Private Medical and Dental Institutions (PAMI) on Tuesday acknowledged that the draft of Pakistan Medical Commission (PMC) ordinance was shared with it by the government before its promulgation.

Speaking at a press conference at the National Press Club, PAMI General Secretary Khaqan Waheed Khuwaja also said medical colleges would not increase their fees this year and the annual fee would remain at Rs950,000.

However, former employees of the commission believed that the fees cannot be increased as per an agreement submitted to the Supreme Court and a decision of the Lahore High Court. On Oct 19, President Dr. Arif Alvi promulgated the ordinance which left Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) dissolved and paved the way for the establishment of a new organization namely PMC.

Govt did not seek our opinion and imposed the ordinance but we are facing unnecessary criticism, says PAMI official

On Oct 20, despite being a Sunday, the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) sealed the building of the PMDC and terminated the services of its 220 employees.

After promulgation of the ordinance, pictures of a meeting attended by representatives of private colleges and chaired by the head of the Health Task Force led by Dr Nosherwan Burki through Skype was circulated on social media. Moreover, a Whatsapp chat was also leaked that showed medical college owners expressing pleasure that the ordinance was being promulgated.

Mr Khuwaja claimed that the government had called them to the meeting and shared a draft of the ordinance. “In the past such drafts were never shared with us and that is why we had approached courts to address our concerns. Though the draft was shared with us this time, we did not propose any amendment to it and neither the government sought our opinion. Factually, the ordinance was imposed on us but it has created unnecessary criticism on PAMI and me.”

He said the PMC ordinance was beneficial for medical education as it will ensure improvement in the quality of education. He hoped that in future medical graduates would not face any difficulty while clearing the United States medical licensing examination which is necessary for further education and practice in the US.

“Moreover, now the Higher Education Commission (HEC) would look into the issue of curriculum and examinations. It was the job of dissolved PMDC but the council remained busy in inspections of medical colleges,” Mr Khuwaja said. Replying a question, he said he was against the dismissal of 220 employees of the PMDC and urged the government to adjust them in other departments.

Mr Khuwaja said though a seven per cent increase in fees of medical colleges was due, the medical colleges have decided not to increase the fee this year. He said colleges would continue collecting Rs9,50,000 annual fee.

When asked why colleges were demanding additional Rs300,000 from students, he said it was hostel fee and the government had introduced five per cent withholding tax on fees. He said parents can obtain a certificate of withholding tax from the colleges and get it reimbursed from the Federal Board of Revenue. However, a former employee of PMDC, requesting not to be quoted, said there was no mention in the agreement between PMDC and private colleges, which was also tabled in the Supreme Court, that the fees would be increased.

“Moreover, during the current year a double bench of Lahore High Court gave a decision under which fees cannot be increased unless the ruling is challenged in the court or the government promulgates another ordinance to allow medical colleges to increase the fees,” he said.

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