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PMDC payment to JSMU for ‘cancelled MDCAT’ raises eyebrows

The Pakistan Medical and Dental Council’s (PMDC) decision to pay the Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU) for holding the Medical and Dental Colleges Admission Test (MDCAT), which was subsequently cancelled after a paper leak, has raised eyebrows among stakeholders, as the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is still investigating the case.

A senior PMDC official said that the JSMU had contacted the council, claiming that it needed to clear its bills with vendors, after which the council’s executive committee, headed by JSMU Vice Chancellor (VC) Prof Amjad Siraj Memon, approved the clearance of the around Rs130 million bill.

Prof Memon stated that the university had no involvement in the test paper leakage and had merely taken charge of conducting the test. He alleged that some elements were spreading propaganda against the university.

The MDCAT, conducted by JSMU in Sindh in which over 40,000 students participated, was cancelled after the leakage of original test papers in September 2023. Later, the PMDC engaged Dow University of Health Sciences (DUHS) to hold MDCAT again. The DUHS held the MDCAT again in November in which 41,000 candidates from Sindh appeared.

Payment of Rs130 million approved by executive committee even as FIA probe into paper leak continues; PMDC official claims university needed to clear its bills

An official of the health ministry, requesting not to be quoted, said the MDCAT 2023 was held in September last year in which around 200,000 candidates appeared from across the country. In Sindh over 40,000 candidates had appeared in JSMU in Karachi, Shaheed Benazirabad and Larkana. He noted a total of 4,790 seats — 3,600 for MBBS and 1,190 for dental studies, were available at the public and private sector medical institutions of the province.

He said the Sindh govt decided to re-conduct the MDCAT due to numerous complaints regarding paper leakage, using unlawful means to attempt and cheating. Initially, PMDC paid half of the total amount to JSMU [around Rs60 million] in advance for the smooth execution of the exam. Later when it was decided to re-conduct the test, PMDC decided not to release the remaining payment to JSMU because it was their responsibility to conduct the transparent exam.

“Later Dow University re-conducted the MDCAT 2023 exam in November last year, and PMDC paid Dow University for holding the exam. It was decided to withhold the remaining amount of JSMU. Later, matter of remaining payment was sent to executive committee of the PMDC, headed by VC JSMU himself, and the seven-member executive committee decided to clear the remaining bill,” he explained.

“The payment has raised eyebrows of many that it was an open-and-shut case of no payment, but due to reasons best known to the PMDC management, it was released, which seems illegal as the FIA has not completed the inquiry yet,” he said.

When contacted, a senior official of the PMDC, whishing not to be named, said that the PMDC had already paid 50 per cent of the amount, and it was decided that the remaining amount would be paid after conducting the MDCAT.

Prof Memon, while talking to Dawn, said that according to rules, every year a different university holds MDCAT in the provinces.

“In 2022, DUHS held the MDCAT, and in 2023, it was turn of the JSMU to hold the test. There are a number of elements who have been doing propaganda against the JSMU. We held totally transparent tests, but five hours after holding MDCAT, allegations were made on social media that paper was leaked. I took notice of the allegations and wanted to form an inquiry committee, but then the chief minister also took notice of the issue, and later the FIA was involved in it,” he said.

He said that during initial inquiry, two phone numbers from interior Sindh were identified, which were used in leaking the question papers.

“However, we were facing severe problem as the university had hired different vendors, and they were demanding clearance of their bills as we were bound to pay them in one month. So, I filed application with the PMDC, and after getting approval from the executive committee, it was decided to clear the bills of the university,” he said.

While replying to a question, Prof Memon said that the FIA was still doing inquiry, and that is why the university has saved all the relevant documents, stationery and other evidences. He said it took almost five months to convince the PMDC and get the bill cleared.

Title : PMDC payment to JSMU for ‘cancelled MDCAT’ raises eyebrows
Author : Daily Dawn
Type : News
Role Performer : Corporate Author
Subject : PMDC payment amid ongoing MDCAT probe.
Publisher : Daily dawn
Publication Place : Islamabad
Date : 2024-02-22
Language : English