Eliminating the paper trail: K-P Assembly still a far cry from tree hugging

Official says paper still being used abundantly in presence of e-governance project

Sohail Khattak April 22, 2016
K-P Assembly. PHOTO: AFP


The paper trail left by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly is long and undistinguished. However, before people start demanding accountability, this is quite literally a paper trail rather than evidence of any wrongdoing.

After wanting to maintain a “paperless” environment, the assembly has once again asked departments to send 250 copies of legislative business.

Copies of letters issued by the assembly secretariat, available with The Express Tribune, clearly show a complete and clear deviation from earlier goals. Last month, the house installed touchscreen computer monitors under the e-governance project.

The project, costing Rs78 million, is aimed at transferring legislative business from paper to digital. K-P Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser inaugurated the project.

The government is spending over Rs188 million on stationery in the ongoing fiscal year and the e-governance project was considered a ray of hope, an official privy to the matter told The Express Tribune.

“We were supposed to provide answers to questions in the assembly on a USB drive along with a few printed copies,” the official added, requesting anonymity.

He said the assembly’s information technology section was supposed to share the response or answer through specifically designed software.

That response would automatically appear on each computer screen installed at the desk of MPAs, while the printed copies would be kept for the assembly records and media personnel.

The assembly issued a letter on March 7 to all administrative departments of the government and asked for 150 printed copies along with a soft copy in a computer flash, the official said.

He added some departments objected over 150 printed copies as it was a waste of resources in the presence of an e-governance system.

“How ironic that the assembly has started asking for 250 copies of answers now,” the official said. “We are providing 250 copies of questions, motions and now again they are asking for the same number of copies. This clearly shows the failure of the assembly secretariat to take advantage of IT.”

The official added a peon of his office took the answers in a flash drive to the assembly secretariat along with 500 copies collectively of two questions asked by a member of the department.

When asked about the increase in the number of copies, K-P Assembly Information Technology Director Attaullah Khan said, “That will be a mistake. I will inquire about it on Saturday (today).”

He said the departments are sending 250 copies as demanded by the assembly, adding the paper trail would be reduced at first and ultimately eliminated. “This is a very heavy system and just seven parliaments in the world have adopted it, so it will need time to become completely functional,” he added. “We are trying to reduce paper use and will have taken big steps in that direction by the coming budget session.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 23rd,  2016.



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