NACO has not published an annual report since 2016. Annual reports since 2016-17 appear as part of the annual reports of the ministry of health and family welfare.
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), India’s nodal organisation for implementation of programmes for prevention and control of HIV/AIDS in India has discontinued publication of its independent annual report since 2016.
The last NACO annual report published in 2016 provided a comprehensive account of NACO’s annual proceedings.
A consultant OWSA spoke to on the matter said that NACO’s affairs were covered in the annual report of the ministry of health and family welfare.
However, reports from NACO were covered as part of the annual reports of the ministry of health and family welfare earlier as well.
But while the annual reports of the ministry of health and family welfare since 2016 have devoted more pages to the affairs of NACO, there is hardly any mention of NACO’s accounts (the organisation’s funding for NACP-IV alone is to the tune of Rs. 13,415.05 crores). Moreover, there is a passing mention of the accounts and there are no audit reports.
Interestingly, the finance section of the NACO website has a mention of the annual releases until the budget year 2016-2017. (The financial releases to the state AIDS prevention and control societies are not downloadable.)
The NACO website also has statutory audit reports from states and union territories until the year 2018-19. But there is no comprehensive audit report that also accounts for the work of NACO’s headquarters.
Civil society groups working on HIV/AIDS are concerned and they say that they have hardly any information on why the organisation has discontinued publishing it annual report.
A representative of UNAIDS did not wish to speak on the matter. She said that the annual report was the government’s responsibility and not the responsibility of the UN agency.
Five years’ accounts in five rows and three columns
The chapter on NACO in the health ministry’s annual report for 2019-20 has only provided a table with three columns and five rows with expenditures over the past five years. The organisation’s incomes and the expenditures do not find any further mention in the ministry’s annual report.
According to information provided on the organisation’s website, funds and expenditures earmarked to the organisation sum up to Rs. 2064.65 crores (it is not clearly mentioned if this is the latest budget earmarked for the organisation). Besides government funds, this money also includes funds received by NACO from the world bank, USAID, CIDA, UNDP, AusAID, DFID and the global fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria (GFATM).
Dr Rajesh Rana of PLAN India that has partnered with the health ministry on the GFATM projects agreed that the data on the NACO site was old data.
Previous annual reports provided detailed accounts of the organisation’s finances. For instance, the annual report for the year 2015-16 devoted over three pages to its financial matters. The report had detailed the work of NACO’s financial division, including budgeting, accounting, auditing and internal financial advisory functions. It also dwelled on donor coordination. Besides, it also provided a year-wise tabulation of expenditures during for the years between 2013 and 2016 under the fourth phase of the National AIDS Control Programme.
Though the 2015-16 annual report did not have an auditor’s statement on the accounts and expenditures incurred by the organisation, it did provide details of the budgetary support of Rs. 13,415.05 crores.
The 2015-16 annual report also mentioned how financial systems were established to release sanctioned amount of money and how cash flow to peripheral units in states were being closely monitored to save the last users from facing a shortage of resources.
In the absence of an annual report for 2016-17 or the year 2017-18, there is no clarity of how the fourth phase of the NACP fared (NACP-IV was phase out in 2017).