ISLAMABAD: Although a robust Right to Information (RTI) law has been enforced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), the provincial bureaucracy is still refusing to provide the requested information as only 18 percent requests sent to the government departments were responded to after stipulated the time period of 10 working days.
A study by Coalition on Right to Information (CRTI) has found that out of 50 information requests sent to all deputy commissioners and district hospitals, only seven got a response. There are 25 districts and only three deputy commissioners and six medical superintendents of top district hospitals turned out to be responsive.
Requests were filed by Islamabad-based Center for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) and Peshawar-based Center for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA) in the period falling between August 20 and November 4 this year. KP’s RTI Ordinance was promulgated on August 13 allowing citizens to exercise their right.
The ordinance passed into an Act from the provincial assembly on October 31, 2013.While all deputy commissioners were sent only one question that was about the certified copy of the log-book of each vehicle under the use of concerned deputy commissioner, a record that bureaucrats hate to share. It is often not maintained in order to misuse the vehicle and fuel facility.
A similar kind of RTI request by CPDI, for instance, to a deputy commissioner in Karachi returned with a revealing answer that the field offices were not provided with the log-books, let alone maintaining it.
As The News reported this reply that was submitted only after the intervention of provincial ombudsman, Sindh government announced to fix the problem directing all the deputy commissioners’ offices to maintain the record.
As for the requests for the same information in KP are concerned, they were responded only by deputy commissioners of Peshawar, Haripur and Tor Garh. Reminders were sent to the rest but they failed to respond. Similarly, CGPA submitted information requests to medical superintendents of all District Headquarter Hospitals of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on August 20, 2013 and maintained the follow-up.
Only six of them provided the requested information. They are medical superintendents of Batagram, Haripur, Swabi, Lakki Marwat, Upper Dir and Lower Dir.The rest did not provide the requested information. They were asked 16 questioned related about the X-ray machines, ECG machines, ultrasound machines, and CT scan machines. In each case, questions were asked about the number of machines; how many of them are functional; and how many of them are out of order.
This research report shows that culture of secrecy prevails in public bodies. Let alone responding to information requests, a majority of public officials did not even acknowledge the receipt of information requests, said Zahid Abdullah, coordinator of CRTI. This clearly means that an effective and autonomous implementation mechanism is required to implement right to information law in the province.