Transparency is certainly at a premium in cash-rich Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) that had earned over about Rs 268 crore during FY20, mostly from policyholders and has fixed deposits of over Rs 1,450 crore, a senior official said.
While prescribing the detailed public disclosure norms for insurers, the IRDAI does not disclose its full accounts in its annual reports, an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told IANS.
The IRDAI’s annual report for 2019-20 does not contain its full accounts: Receipts and Payments Account, Income and Expenditure Account, and the Balance Sheet.
An official told IANS that for fiscal 2019-20, the IRDAI had earned a total income of about Rs 268 crore and the excess of income over expenditure was a whopping Rs 102.44 crore.
The IRDAI’s asset side of the balance sheet for FY20 is about Rs 1,805 crore of which Rs 1,644.59 crore consists of investments/fixed deposits, current assets (cash and bank balances, loans and advances, and others), the official added.
The Central government has been asking the IRDAI to transfer its funds to the Public Account of India and withdraw a specified amount at the beginning of the fiscal.
However, the IRDAI has refused to do that.
Twenty years ago, when the IRDAI was set up, its revenue sources were structured in such a way so that it is financially independent of the Central government.
Major source of the IRDAI’s revenue is from the annual licence renewal fee paid by insurers.
The insurers pay 1/20th of one per cent of the gross direct premium underwritten in India subject to a minimum of Rs 500,000 and a maximum of Rs 10 crore.
Industry officials told IANS that IRDAI should utilise its whopping accumulated funds for the benefit of the industry like studying the catastrophic loss regions and the measures to be taken to avoid/minimise the loss of life and property.
Similarly, studies could also be done on automobile design or road building technology so that they are safe which in turn would minimise accidents and loss of life and limb, experts added.
Be that as it may, senior officials told IANS that the IRDAI does not follow the Central government’s instructions on suo moto disclosures.
According to an official, the IRDAI is not sharing information about the domestic and foreign tours of its officials and others.
When information is sought by a citizen paying requisite fee under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the IRDAI, in its reply, provides a weblink thereby making the former spend more money in getting the information.
“Many times, the web link will not work,” an IRDAI official said.
The IRDAI also avoids many RTI questions saying they are in the nature of a “query” or the information sought is exempted under the RTI Act, the official added.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)