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Legislation to protect whistleblowers at hand

Updated April 30, 2015


KP cabinet okays bill meant to facilitate people’s leaks about illegal acts, corruption. -Reuters/File
KP cabinet okays bill meant to facilitate people’s leaks about illegal acts, corruption. -Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will soon have whistleblower protection and vigilance commission law to facilitate people to make disclosures about irregular, illegal or corrupt practices by individuals.

The provincial cabinet on Wednesday approved the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission Bill 2015.

Under the proposed law, the government will protect whistleblowers from disadvantageous measures and give them rewards, including cash, for making disclosures of public interest.

KP cabinet okays bill meant to facilitate people’s leaks about illegal acts, corruption

After passage in the provincial assembly, the government will set up a four-member whistleblower protection and vigilance commission to be headed by a chairman, who will be appointed for three years.

Giving details of the cabinet meeting, information minister Mushtaq Ghani said approval of the bill showed that the government’s commitment and determination for the eradication of corruption and corrupt practices from society.

Chief Minister Pervez Khattak chaired the meeting.

The cabinet seems to have passed the draft haphazardly.

A source privy to the meeting said ministers were unaware of the bill and that few members of the cabinet expressed displeasure at the move.

“It seems that copies of the bill were disseminated among cabinet members on Tuesday evening, while law department received the document about two days ago,” he said.

The bill does not clarify whether the proposed law applies to government servants and private sector.

According to the bill, the commission shall ensure that no whistleblower is victimised by disadvantageous measures or otherwise merely on the ground that such whistleblower had made a public interest disclosure or rendered assistance in inquiry under this act.

No action shall be taken on public interest disclosure by the commission if the disclosure does not indicate the identity of the whistleblower.

The commission shall take all due care to conceal the identity of the whistleblower unless the whistleblower himself reveals his identity to any other office or authority.

Ghani said the cabinet also approved the provincial tourism policy 2015.

He said the government after a detailed discussion with stakeholders prepared the policy to promote tourism in the province.

The minister said under the new policy, the government would explore tourism and would play the role of a facilitator. He said after the new policy was enforced, the government expected Rs50 billion investment in this sector.

Ghani said 8.8 million domestic tourists and 5.6 per cent of the total foreign tourists, who came to Pakistan, visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last year.

He said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received Rs12 billion revenue from tourism in the same period and that the government would create conducive environment for investment in the sector.

The cabinet also approved amendments to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013.

Under the proposed amendment, a member and chief information commissioner or two members will be sufficient to make any decision.

Under the existing law, if any member is absent, the structure of the commission comprising chief commissioner and three members is considered incomplete and its decision could be challenged in any court of law.

Also, in a bid to make clarity in the law, the cabinet approved the proposal that appeal against the decision of commission be filed with a division bench of the Peshawar High Court.

It okayed the enhancement of financial powers of the Parent Teacher Council (PTC) from Rs1 million to Rs2 million annually.

The school funds are directly transferred to the bank accounts of PTCs for use on need basis.

These councils have been directly involved in the school developmental process.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2015

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