Islamabad: The state of transparency, accountability and governance has declined over the years in the country.
According to a research study titled “Exploring transparency in Pakistan: A review of annual reports”, conducted by the Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan (CRCP), it was found that a majority of surveyed federal public bodies and entities were not adhering to mandatory clauses of the Rules of Business 1973 regarding publication of annual reports and yearbooks.
The study primarily focused on reviewing the availability of annual reports and information related to Right to Information (RTI) laws on websites of government ministries, divisions and departments and content analysis of these reports for the year 2012-13 in relation to key features of international best practices.
In all, 56 federal public bodies including 37 federal ministries and divisions, 11 attached departments and eight regulatory authorities were requested to provide copies of annual reports and yearbooks for the financial year 2012-13. Only 26 of them provided their yearbooks.
Three departments wrote that they do not publish annual reports, whereas 16 public bodies did not even respond.
“Non-completion of annual reports and yearbooks by almost 54 per cent of federal [bodies] is a clear violation of Federal Government Rules of Business 1973,” said the study.
In addition, of the 56 public bodies, only 17 regularly publish annual reports, which “clearly reflects the lack of interest of ministries and departments and their inability to state their achievements and successes for the preceding year. It also shows absence or ineffectiveness of monitoring and accountability mechanisms and reflects poorly on the prevailing state of governance,” said the study.
It adds that only one department publishes its report in both, English and Urdu languages, whereas, 25 public bodies publish their reports in English only.
The study concluded with the recommendation that in order to ensure transparency and accountability, timely publication of annual reports should be ensured by the heads of public bodies.
The study also stressed that annual reports should follow international standards and that the financial statements of the bodies should be an essential part of the reports.
“In order to comply with the requirements of proactive disclosure, all public bodies should place soft copies of these reports, including Urdu translations, on their websites for easy access and understanding of the general public,” it said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 25th, 2014.