A new era promising residents of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) freedom of information is now just a matter of days away, The Express Tribune learnt on Thursday.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government is all set to implement what is to be called the ‘Access to Information Act’ in the province, according to sources at the Civil Secretariat Peshawar.
“After its implementation, the Access to Information Act is supposed to bring about an age where there is a flow of information to the general public. Giving access to those who seek to evaluate any government department’s activities and its performance,” explained an official.
“It can do the public good by promoting citizens’ trust in state functionaries.”
A day earlier, K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak said his government had approved the Access to Information bill. This piece of legislation will lead to corruption-free and transparent governance in the province, added Khattak.
After the 18th Constitutional Amendment was passed in April 2010, freedom of information became a provincial subject. However, it has taken K-P more than three years to pass the bill with the previous government led by the Awami National Party (ANP) unsuccessful in implementing the act during its tenure.
Before the last assembly session in March, former information minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain had stated they had good intentions regarding the right to information. However, he added, the K-P government was mindful of how other provinces acted in this regard and was waiting on the centre to take the first steps.
Official sources had confirmed the rough draft on a right to information policy was still in the bureaucracy’s hold when the ANP-led government was completing its tenure.
The current provincial government responded quickly and set a July 15 deadline to implement the Access to Information bill and approved the measure in the first formal cabinet meeting which took place on July 9.
From bill to act
A meeting was held a day earlier at the Civil Secretariat Peshawar between officials from the secretariat and the K-P information department to finalise the bill.
The bill has been vetted and is ready to be sent to the governor for approval at the earliest to implement it as an ordinance, added an official at the law department. This will allow the government to stick by its July 15 deadline.
After the governor’s approval, the bill will be presented at the next K-P Assembly session where, if passed, it will become an act within a time period stipulated by the constitution, explained the official.
Sharing the broad contours of the bill, the law department official said a chief information officer would head the operation as per the Access to Information bill. Every government department will have an information officer who will be the public’s point of contact for accessing information.
“Every government department under the bill needs to have a website and is bound to update it on a daily basis.”
Even though every government department has a website at the moment, not all are regularly updated.
“The information sought by a person has to be provided within a week,” informed the official.
Once passed, the Access to Information Act will make it binding on relevant officials to provide information within the given timeframe. The official did not share the list of excluded/exception information, if any, which cannot be accessed through the act.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ
@Zain: 1. I will appreciate if you can kindly share the link where the content of the bill are available? 2. Its not only the publicity by the Media, before finalizing the draft it was meant to be shared with relevant stakeholders for soliciting their inputs. 3. I wont comment on your judgement of there is no need to delay. 4. PPP has not put forth any claim my dear, i am sharing with you the information. And beside the PPP member's Private Bill, the KP Law department also finalized a bill on the same subject during the ANP regime. I have seen both the drafts. So will be happy to see the one up the sleeve of present KP government. 5. I don't know from where you get the idea that i am complaining about what PTI has done in 30 days?? My dear try to understand the difference between polemics and a technical opinion.
I though they were talking about declassifying information and increasing public access to it. I mean what information could daily be updates on every department's website? looks like some more jobs for Inqilabis coming up.
@AleyIt is not drafted in secrecy. content was available in news. Media did not publicize it a lot due to its bias. it will be passed by assembly so there will be no 3 months limitation There is no need to delay. As people like you complaining what PTI done in 30 days. Assembly can vet it as soon as it wants. First its not the same bill. PPP is just making excuses. if they wanted why they did not pass it in sindh? Freedom of information laws at federal level and province level are pretty toothless
Interesting Aspects: 1. Proposed Bill on Access to Information: However drafted in complete secrecy, have not been shared with anyone as of now. So what quality of freedom to information is expected from such a piece of legislation :) 2. Bill to be Passed as an Ordinance not as an act of KP legislature :). It will have a limited time in force - 3 months. 3. Whats the rush? Why not wait for the assembly session, or if it is too important the session can be convened so that the Bill can be debated on the floor of the house and then voted upon. 4. Is it an Achievement: Hardly so...the bill seems to be the same as was drafted by the previous government and with little change it will be used. A bill was also tabled in the last assembly by PPP MPA, MS. Noor Sehar, but was blocked by JUI. 5. Implementation: The achievement will come when its fair implementation will be ensured. As Pakistan at the moment has Access to Information Laws at Federal tier, Balochistan, and Sindh since long. So we need to wait and see couple of things before jumping the gun...the content of the bill and then will of the government will be demonstrated in the method of its implementation.
^Saadullah thats something thats in federal govt hand.
@Saadullah Awan: that is the federal govt issue
why do you guys with no knowledge keep on commenting
Lol if they really cared about freedom of information, they would unblock youtube already
thats another great achievement of kp govt in very short time