LG members demand greater information access

Officials assure that RTI, RTS laws would be granted greater teeth

Asad Zia July 21, 2017
Officials assure that RTI, RTS laws would be granted greater teeth. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: Members of local bodies’ and activists on Thursday expressed grave reservations over the effective implementation of a provincial government reforms agenda and demanded that new laws are properly implemented.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government was criticised for not properly implementing several laws such as the Right to Information Act 2013, Right to Public Service Act 2014 and Local Government Act 2013 in a seminar on ‘Charter of demands in the status of implementation of provincial laws,’ organised by the CGPA at a local hotel in Peshawar on Thursday.

Peshawar District government member Noor Wali Khan strongly criticised the role of RTI and said that it had failed to provide timely services to the people.

“I submitted an RTI application for information regarding utilisation of district government funds allocated to the local bodies in last two years, however, after four months, I have yet to receive any reply from the concerned department,” he said.

He added that if a government body cannot provide services to the public, then why is money collected from the public to pay high salaries to officials in these bodies, he asked.

Nowshera District government member Juma Khan too criticised the incumbent district nazim, stating that developmental funds were being distributed among people associated with his party while members of the opposition party were deprived of funds. He asked the concerned departments to take notice of this issue since it was injustice with local government members from opposition parties.

On the other hand, local government members from the ruling PTI expressed their satisfaction over the allocation and subsequent utilisation of development funds. They also appreciated the devolution of power to grass roots.

Seminar participants urged the RTI commission to notify rules of business and to extend the RTI Act to provincially administered tribal areas (PATA).

Moreover, they demanded that the head of the department should be held responsible for sharing information while public information officers, divisional officers should be appointed to ensure easy access to the RTI commission, including the Peshawar High Court in the ambit of RTI Act, proactive discloser of information while providing additional benefits to the public information officers in their services structure.

Regarding the RTS Act, citizens asked the provincial government to formulate a policy for effective and timely public service delivery along with a monitoring mechanism for federal departments which provide services at the provincial level such as the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL).

About the local government act, activists urged to amend the law since the existing law has no mechanism for bringing about a vote of no-confidence over elected village nazims.

RTI Chief Information Commissioner Azmat Hanif Orakzai ensured activists that the commission would be made accessible while the RTI and RTS laws would be further empowered.

Local Government Department Additional Secretary Said Rehman said that there were proper rules and regulations for local bodies and that the concerned authorities take notice of every complaint made.

He added that the department has so far taken action against 100 members who were fined for violating the rules.

Rehman further said that they were in talks with supporting organisations to train members of the district government, especially women councillors.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 21st, 2017.


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