Nepal | August 12, 2020

Govt offices neglecting RTI

Rastriya Samachar Samiti
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Kathmandu, July 28

Though the constitution and prevalent law ensure right to information, many government offices have yet to grant access to information for the public.

At a meeting of the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the House of Representative today, Chief Commissioner of the National Information Commission Mahendra Man Gurung said 29 offices were being run without assigning any staffer as information officer. The commission had carried out a study at 120 offices.

So far, it has penalised 24 officials for denying information to the public. Ninety offices out of 120 failed to disclose their progress reports in every three months despite the legal provision. The organisations have been directed to designate information officers and compulsorily disclose information within 15 days. On the occasion, Chief Commissioner Gurung briefed the committee members about the commission’s performance and activities carried out to implement RTI. Gurung and other commissioners urged the lawmakers not to draft include provision of secrecy during formulation and amendment of the laws.

The commission has forwarded the idea of holding intensive discussion on RTI at political and policy levels. On the occasion, parliamentarian Asha Kumari BK raised her concern on how the general public would get access to information at a time the deputies of local governments were having a tough time to get the details of expenditure carried out by the concerned chief and executive body.

A committee member, Mahendra Prasad Raya said the government has been neglecting the commission as its office-bearers were appointed on the ground of power sharing. Lawmaker Leela Shrestha said the implementation aspect of RTI should be strengthened.

Also speaking at the meeting, lawmaker Yagya Raj Sunuwar argued that a democracy demanded good governance and transparency and the trend of dillyd-allying in providing information to citizens should be brought to an end.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on July 29, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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