ISLAMABAD: Terming the rival provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s steps to pass ‘Right to Information Act (RTI)’ a significant development, speakers on Thursday said if implemented in letter and spirit, the law would change the fate of the people.

Speaking at the ‘Orientation sessions on Punjab and KP Right to Information Acts and Transparency and Accountability’, Devolution Trust for Community Empowerment (DTCE) Chief Operating Officer Azhar Bashir Malik said the provincial legislation to deliver citizens the right to information was a significant development in the context of Pakistan where government officers considered themselves not liable to answer citizens.

“This act will stop corruption and improve governance system,” said Asma Ijaz, a DTCE speaker.

She said in KP the act had been implemented and people were getting information of their choice from government departments.

However, in Punjab, appointment of information officers, who are supposed to facilitate citizens, was facing a delay, she said, adding that more or less both RTI laws in the two provinces were the same.

DTCE trainer Ghulam Mustafa Sangrasi briefed the participants on RTI, as well as the composition and function of Punjab and KP information commissions.

He urged Sindh and Balochistan to pass RTI in greater interest of the citizens.

Mr Sangrasi said proper implementation of RTI laws was imperative for strengthening democracy, transparency and reducing corruption.

Under the RTI, the citizens of the two provinces could get information, except on sensitive matters, free of cost.

In KP, all departments are bound to provide the required information to citizens within 10 working days while in Punjab, people could get the required information within 14 working days.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2014