Nepal | July 03, 2020

Govt bodies not complying with RTI Act provision

Himalayan News Service
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Some govt offices have not made proactive disclosure for the last nine months

Kathmandu, September 2

Government bodies are bound to update and publish information related to their structures, functions, and details of financial transactions, income and expenditure which is also known as proactive disclosure, yet many of the government bodies are not complying with this provision of the Right to Information Act.

Executive Director of Freedom Forum Taranath Dahal said some government offices had not made proactive disclosure for the last nine months. He said the government bodies had started to publish details of the bills they were supposed to reimburse in a few days, but most of them were not continuing the practice. “This provision is designed to make procurement and financial transactions of public bodies transparent because the public can lodge complaints if they think a government body responsible for reimbursing bills should scrutinise the process more,” Dahal added.

Information Commissioner KiranPokharel said lack of punitive provisions in the existing Right to Information Act for not making proactive disclosure could be a major reason why government offices were not making proactive disclosure on a regular basis.

“Under RTI Act, a concerned authority can be punished for not providing information to a petitioner, but there is no provision for punishment if any public body does not make proactive disclosure,” Pokharel added.

He said his office had recommended that the government amend the RTI Act to compel concerned authorities to make proactive disclosure of information related to their offices three months ago.

Pokharel said government ministries and departments started making proactive disclosure after his office wrote to them a few years ago, but most of the government offices had not yet started doing that. “Only about 30 per cent government offices have started making such disclosures. Government offices based in districts have very poor record of making such disclosure.”

Pokharel said some of the government offices and ministries were making proactive disclosure but they were still not including all the required information in the documents.

He said the idea behind making it mandatory for government bodies to make proactive disclosure was to ensure that government bodies should deem it their duty to disseminate information that could benefit the public and they should not wait till somebody filed a petition under the RTI Act.

As per the RTI Act, government offices are supposed to make proactive disclosure every three months.

A version of this article appears in print on September 03, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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