August 10, 2015 - Comments Off on ‘The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies’

‘The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies’

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab government departments fail to share information with citizens via web portals; Punjab Information Department does not have even a web site: Report

Lahore, August 10, 2015:

The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies report reaffirms earlier findings that reveal that government departments in the provinces of K-P and Punjab have failed to comply with their own right to information laws. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab public bodies are required to proactively disclose categories of information as mentioned in Sections 4 and 5 of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 and the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, respectively.

In clear violation of Section 4 of the Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013, almost all of the government departments surveyed failed to provide information about particulars of the recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by the public bodies involved. This information is glaringly absent from official Punjab government websites, and clearly suggests that these bodies do not want to be transparent and accountable to citizens. This furthers the narrative of earlier reports that even though it is a positive effort to legislate RTI laws meeting international standards, citizens will only benefit when the respective provincial commissions play their due role in implementing those laws.

Provincial government departments have begun to start sharing information regarding provincial budgets. However, these departments have failed to provide details regarding proposed expenditure goals, as well as actual spending that has taken place. Nor has any information been provided concerning remunerations, salaries, benefits, and any other such payments that respective departments provide to employed staff or beneficiaries.

While K-P provincial departments have begun to share information concerning Public Information Officers, under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's right to information laws, Punjab's provincial government bodies have as yet failed to provide any information about Punjab's own designated Public Information Officer. This reluctance to provide information is noteworthy, considering that the website of the Punjab Information Commission contains a list of Public Information Officers as designated by government departments. The Commission itself, however, has not provided any information about Punjab Public Information Officers outside of this list, however.

The report does recognise that provincial governments have adopted the latest web standards and many of them actively maintain their web presence. It in light of this, therefore, that while positive steps are reaffirmed by the report, the lack of tangible reforms  being adopted to implement key sections of the respective laws of the provinces, including the details of expenditures, becomes more glaring and significant.

The State of Proactive Disclosure of Information in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Public Bodies report analysed 17 departments of the Punjab government and 13 departments of K-P, ranking the degree of sharing and openness adopted by the two provincial governments on a scale of zero-10, where zero equates to “doesn’t meet the provision”, and 10 equates to “completely follows the provision”.

This report is a joint-effort initiated by the Coalition of Right to Information (CRTI) and Digital Rights Foundation, with a broader aim to measure how public bodies have been using the web. With rapid technological advancement, and greater reliance on technology for information, it has become crucial for government bodies to start using their web presence more effectively in order to promote good governance and reduce corruption. This research looked at whether government departments are keeping properly maintained websites and promoting citizen feedback. The primary purpose of these reports, however, is to measure against respective RTI laws.

Current research reiterates the critical situation concerning the lack of public disclosure of the recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted by the public bodies of both provinces. While Coalition Of Right to Information and Digital Rights Foundation both appreciate efforts undertaken by the elected governments of Punjab and KP-K, in having enacted right to information laws, it is disappointing to see the unwillingness of public bodies to comply with those same regulations.

Much needs to be done by the Information Commissions of  K-P and Punjab to ensure that public bodies comply with the right to information laws and make information available for public consumption.

Link to the report: Proactive Disclosure Report 

Contact: nighat@digitalrightsfoundation.pk

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“Coalition of Right to Information seeks to promote an open information and communications policies at the federal, provincial and district levels across Pakistan. With various initiatives, the coalition of civil society organizations aims to promote citizen awareness and improve dialogue between the citizens and state.” 

Digital Rights Foundation is a research based advocacy organization based in Pakistan focusing on ICTs to support human rights, democratic processes and better digital governance. DRF opposes any and all sorts of online censorship and violations of human rights both on ground and online. We firmly believe that freedom of speech and open access to online content is critically important for the development of socio-economy of the country. www.digitalrightsfoundation.pk

Published by: Asad J. Malik in Press Releases

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