COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC UNDERTAKINGS
BRIEF NOTE REGARDING WORKING OF THE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC UNDERTAKINGS
The introduction of the phase of planned economic development in the State and the adoption of various policy resolutions by the State Legislatures lead to a steady growth of various enterprises, which are controlled and managed by the State Government. Several Statutory Corporations and Boards involving large investment of capital funds thus came into being. The performance of such Public Undertakings and the Boards became alive subjects for discussion in the State Legislature. Since the money required to finance such Corporations/Boards are appropriated from the Consolidated Fund of the State it was naturally deemed appropriate/ that the Legislature should have adequate control over their affairs through its independent organ. With this object in view, in State of Punjab, the Committee on Public Undertakings was constituted for the first time in 1971, prior to this period the control over the working of the Corporations/Boards was exercised by the Committee on Public Accounts in so far as the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India relating to such Corporations/Boards were concerned and by the Committee on Estimates in so far as the general working was concerned after the formation of the Committee on Public Undertakings, both these roles were assigned to this Committee.
Rule 228 of the Rules of procedure and Conduct of Business of Punjab Legislative Assembly defines the Scope and Functions of the Committee as under:-
228. There shall be a Committee on Public Undertakings for the examination of the working of the public undertakings. The functions of the Committee shall be :-
(a) To examine the reports and accounts of the Public undertakings specified in Schedule II and of such other Public Undertakings as may be referred to the Committee by the Speaker for examination;
(b) To examine the reports, if any, of the Comptroller and Auditor-General on the public undertakings;
(c) To examine in the context of the autonomy and efficiency of public undertakings, whether the affairs of the public undertakings are being managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices; and
(d) To exercise such other functions vested in the Committee on Public Accounts and the Committee on Estimates in relation to the Public undertakings mentioned above as are not covered by clauses (a), (b) and (c) above and as may be allotted to the Committee by the Speaker from time to time :
Provided that the Committee shall not examine and investigate any of the following, namely:-
(i) Matters of major Government policy as distinct from business or commercial functions of the public undertakings ;
(ii) Matters of day-to-day administration;
(iii) Matters for the consideration of which machinery is established by any special statue under which a particular public undertaking is established.
The Committee framed its internal working Rules in the year 1977 copies of which have been supplied to the Hon'ble Members for their Kind perusal.
The Committee has to deal with the companies with Government participation and registered under company's Act 1956 and Public Sector Undertakings/Corporations established under special enactments of the Legislature. At present there are 32 Such Public Undertakings under the preview of the Committee. A list of such public Undertakings is placed on the Table of the Committee.
This Committee consists of 13 Members who are normally elected by the Legislature every year from amongst its members according to the principle of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote . However, when the time is short, the Hon'ble Speaker is authorized by the House to nominate the Members of this Committee and this Committee, as such, has also been nominated by the Hon'ble Speaker.
The work of the Committee is divided in to three parts:-
(i) Examination of the general working of the Public Undertakings specified in schedule II and of such other Public Undertakings as may be referred to it by the Hon'ble Speaker;
(ii) Examination of the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India;
(iii) Examination of the Action Taken Reports of the Government with regard to the implementation of the recommendations made by the Committee.
The Committee at its first or the subsequent meeting selects certain undertakings for examination of their general working. Such Public Undertakings the general working of which have already been examined by the predecessor committees during last two/three years, are not taken up although there is no bar on it. The administrative departments of such public undertakings are asked to furnish 25 sets of the detailed material on the working of such Corporations/Boards. After such material is received it is scrutinized by the Committee and if any other information is required, questionnaire is framed. This questionnaire is sent to the Administrative Department concerned for submitting the required information.
If the committee is not satisfied even then, additional information is asked for. Department supplies this information within a specified period. As aforesaid, it is also one of the duties of the Committee on Public Undertakings to examine the reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in so far as they relate to the Public Undertakings. In this case, the department is required to submit replies to the Audit objections raised by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India in his report within period of three months after which it is placed before the Committee. If the Committee is satisfied with the reply, the audit paras are dropped and in otherwise case the committee can always seek further information or orally examine the departmental representatives, as the case may be and can make its own recommendations. These recommendations are compiled and submitted to the house in the form of a report. These Reports are sent to the concerned departments for implementation of the recommendations contained there in within a period of six months.
The Accountant General plays an important role in the working of the Committee. Although under the rules he is not a part of the Committee yet he remains a philosopher guide as the originator of the Audit Reports. He remains present in every meeting and assists it at every step.
The Secretary to Government assisted by the Chairman/Managing Director/General Manager of the Concerned Public Undertakings appear before the Committee for their oral examination as and when required for giving clarifications on all the points raised by the Committee. Further information if any sought by the Committee is also sent by the Department based on which the committee makes further observation/recommendations. The proceedings of the Committee are confidential and no recommendations/observation of the Committee can be made Public till the report in which the same are included is presented to the House.