An RTI query filed in Bihar has revealed that 13 commissions, boards and corporations have not submitted their annual report to the state legislature for several years, with the non-compliance of one government body stretching back at least 13 years.
An annual report, while highlighting achievements, gives details of expenses incurred during a financial year. The filing of annual reports is mandatory as per provisions of Bihar State Information Commission. Ironically, the state information commission too has not filed its annual reports after 2015-16.
Non-compliance may hint at financial irregularities
As filing of annual reports by any organisation or agency is mandatory to ensure transparency, 13 commissions, boards and corporations not filing annual reports may raise an alarm about financial irregularities, which could be pointed out during annual auditing. As annual reports also highlight achievements, its absence also not reflect well on governance.
The Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC) is the only organisation that has submitted its 2017-18 annual reports. Meanwhile, the Bihar Police Building Construction Corporation Limited has not submitted its annual report since 2004-05, and the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation has not submitted its report since 2005-06.
The Bihar State Warehousing Corporation has not submitted its annual report after 2010-2011, while the Bihar State Financial Corporation has not submitted its report after 2013-2014.
Among boards, councils and corporations, the Bihar State Pollution Control Board has not submitted its annual report after 2007-2008. A pollution board official said said: “The delay could be because of short-staffing. The board will explain it to the Assembly committee.”
The revelations came after after an RTI query by Buxar activist Shiv Prakash Rai showed that five commissions – Bihar State Information Commission, Bihar State Child Labour Commission, Bihar State Child Rights Protection Commission, Bihar State Minority Commission and Bihar Electricity Regulatory Commission have delayed their annual reports by two to four years.
“The annual reports of 2018-19 have not been submitted to the Assembly by any commission or board so far by the Estimates Committee wing of the Assembly,” said Sanjay Kumar, the public relations officer of the Bihar Legislative Assembly.
The Bihar Assembly secretariat has taken serious note of the irregularity, and has stated that it will serve fresh reminders to all non-compliant commissions, boards and corporations.
Bihar Assembly Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary told The Indian Express: “This is a very serious matter… We have a Public Undertaking Committee to look into these matters. We will issue fresh reminders to it.”
Choudhary added he would review the matter and ensure all non-compliant boards and commissions regularise filing of their annual reports. He said delays in filing of annual reports would reflect in CAG reports.