Transparency International Pakistan’s Report Reveals Gaps in Proactive Disclosure Implementation
Karachi: Transparency International Pakistan releases a report on State of Implementation of Proactive Disclosure, Federal Right of Access to Information Act 2017 which aims to provide external feedback to the federal government departments and ministries regarding the implementation of Proactive Disclosure Provision under The Right of Access to Information Act 2017.
The Second generation RTI laws are distinguished from the First generation RTI laws in number of ways including provision of Proactive Disclosure information to the citizens of Pakistan mainly through the websites of public departments, however, there are important gaps when it comes to overall implementation of proactive disclosure provisions among the departments and the ministries of the federal government, which needs improvement, the report highlights. Various departments are failing to ensure compliance with the Proactive Disclosure Provision as required under Section 5 of Right of Access to Information Act 2017.
The report notes that Transparency International Pakistan has been monitoring the implementation of Proactive Disclosure provisions in the context of federal and provincial RTI laws. In this regard, TI Pakistan has published case studies of Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Act 2016, The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013 and The Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013. The current study on Federal Right of Access to Information Act 2017 finds that the official websites of various important ministries and the departments of the Federal Government disclose only little information. The selected ministries and departments have been studied in the context of 9 clauses of Section 5 of Federal Right of Access to Information Act 2017.
Out of 40 ministries and departments, only 15% have uploaded 50% of the required information on their websites. Three departments (Karachi Port Trust, Gwadar Port Authority and Ministry of States and Frontier Regions) have uploaded less than 10% of the required information under Section 5 of Federal Right of Access to Information Act 2017. Only 19% of the departments have uploaded the detailed budget and expenditures details on their websites.
Speaking on the report, Justice (R) M. Shaiq Usman, Board of Trustee Transparency International Pakistan said that TI Pakistan works extensively to ensure that the most robust laws are enacted in Pakistan and continuously advocates for stronger implementation of the same. Right of Access to Information is a backbone of democracy. Pakistan has come a long way in ensuring that effective Access to Information laws are enacted at the federal and provincial levels. It is hoped that the ministries and the federal government departments will use the findings of this research to ensure effective implementation of proactive disclosure as per the Federal Right of Access to Information Act 2017.
The report highlights that the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, National Highway Authority (NHA), and Capital Development Authority (CDA) compliance stands at 58%, Ministry of Privatization, and Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) are more than 50% compliant with which is 56% and 50% respectively, whereas the Ministry of Climate Change is leading on the compliance of Proactive Disclosure Provision at 64%.
The report also sheds light on the overall compliance with individual clauses of section 5 which is as follow: 62% compliance with clause ‘b’ which requires “Statutes, statutory rules, regulations, bye-laws, orders and notifications, etc. applicable to the public body disclosing the date of their respective commencement or effect”, 18% compliance with clause ‘f’ which requires publishing information pertaining to “A description of its decision-making processes as defined in the Federal Government’s Secretariat Instructions, 2OO4 and any instructions for the time being in force for public to provide input into or be consulted about decisions”, and 35% compliance with clause ‘h’ which requires the ‘methods whereby information in the possession or control of the public body.
The study also provides various recommendations aimed at enhancing the understanding of public bodies of their legal obligation to disclose information to the citizens and the role of the Pakistan Information Commission.
Mr. Kashif Ali, Executive Director, Transparency International Pakistan, said that the report recommends that all the departments should have a separate link of Proactive Disclosure that provides complete information in line with the requirements as per the section 5 of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. He says that it is observed that there is a lack of understanding about some of the items of section 5, of the Right of Access to Information Act, 2017. Since the departments understand it differently, therefore, the required information has not been uploaded. It is recommended that the departments should consult with the Information Commission before uploading information under Proactive Disclosure. The expectation is that the ministries and federal government departments will utilize this research findings to ensure the efficient implementation of proactive disclosure, in accordance with the Federal Right of Access to Information Act of 2017.