ISLAMABAD: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has achieved the best and the federal government the worst ranking in terms of transparency and compliance with the mandatory proactive disclosure of information (PDI) clauses of the Right to Information (RTI) laws, according to a study.
Among the federal government ministries, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is the best at proactively sharing mandatory information, scoring 53pc marks while the Ministry of Interior is the worst with only 26pc marks.
The study showed that among the Information Commissions (IC) charged with enforcement of the four RTI laws governing the federal and provincial governments of KP, Punjab and Sindh, the KP IC secured first position by scoring 100pc marks followed by Punjab with 89pc score and the federal IC third with 63pc points. The Sindh IC could not be assessed because it does not have a website yet.
According to the findings of the study, “Right to information laws and transparency: progressive legislation, reluctant” conducted by Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA) and released in connection with the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) being observed on September 28, there is still a long way to go for the federal and provincial governments to be both optimally transparent and in complete compliance with the PDI clauses of the RTI laws.
The study, in which websites and six federal and provincial ministries were assessed, showed that in the inter-governmental comparison of PDI, the KP government secured the first position as the most transparent with an overall score of 67pc while the Punjab government got the second position with 47pc collective score. Sindh and federal governments secured third and fourth positions, respectively.
The results did not include Balochistan because the province does not have second generation laws like the other governments and is still using an outmoded “freedom of information” law.
IRADA Executive Director Mohammad Aftab Alam told Dawn that among the KP government departments, the information department has topped the others by achieving 89pc marks while the home and tribal affairs department ranked last with 47pc marks.
Among Punjab government departments, the information and culture department secured the top position with 63pc marks while the communication and works department could get only 37pc marks and stood last.
Among the Sindh government departments, the best could be done by the finance department by achieving 53pc marks to attain the top position while the information department stood at the bottom with only 31pc marks.
An inter-province comparison of public bodies showed that the most compliant ones out of 24 public bodies assessed the KP information department was best with 89pc, the KP law department second with 74pc and KP planning and development department third with 68pc. The least compliant public bodies in entire Pakistan included the Ministry of Interior with just 26pc marks while the second worst was Sindh Information Department with only 32pc.
In department-wise ranking, the information ministry/departments collectively occupy the top slot among the most PDI compliant and transparent followed by law departments in second position and finance departments securing the overall third position. The departments of planning/development, communication/works and interior/home occupy the fourth, fifth and sixth positions respectively.
In the inter-indicator comparison, the least disclosed mandatory disclosure indicators by all the federal and provincial public bodies included description of decision-making processes, remuneration, perks and privileges and functions/duties of staff. Budget/ expenditures and particulars about the recipients of grants, licenses and other benefits are also poorly disclosed indicators.
The RTI laws entail mandatory proactive disclosure of information by all public bodies in respective jurisdictions. The federal RTI law entails PDI of 43 types of information (or simply indicators) while KP RTI law requires disclosure of 30 indicators. Sindh and Punjab provinces are required to proactively disclose 25 and 24 indicators respectively.
In all there are 19 indicators that are common to all the four RTI laws in Pakistan and the assessment of the status of implementation of PDI clauses by this study has been based on these 19 indicators.
Mr Alam said, “proactive disclosure is a distinctive feature of Pakistan’s second-generation RTI laws. These laws were enacted after addition of Article 19-A in the Constitution through the Eighteenth Amendment in 2010. These laws include the Federal Right of Access to Information Act 2017, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Information Act 2013, Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act 2013 and the Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Act 2016.”
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2020