Smooth implementation of RTI : Amendments to Establishments Code in the offing | Sunday Observer

Smooth implementation of RTI : Amendments to Establishments Code in the offing

1 January, 2017

The Public Administration Ministry will present a Cabinet paper this month to bring in by-laws amending the Establishments Code to clear the path for the Right to Information (RTI) Act and its smooth implementation.

The Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Deputy Minister Karu Paranavithana said according to the RTI Act passed in Parliament last year, the State mechanism should be geared to fully implement the law by February 4 which means changes to the existing Establishments Code and secrecy clauses therein.

“However, all state institutions will not be ready by February 4, hence we may stick to a staggered/structured implementation of the new law,” he said.

The RTI law empowers citizens to question, audit and review public accounts over matters that concerns them. He said the legal structure is almost ready except for some few outstanding issues.

Rights groups and civil society which clamoured for the RTI law which dragged on for over a decade before it was finally passed in Parliament, emphasized that the written law must be supplemented by a clear legal framework.

“The next step would be the appeal mechanisms,” Transparency International of Sri Lanka spokesperson Shan Wijethunga pointed out, adding that the training and capacity building of public officials is also an integral part of making this process a success.

The government appointed the Right to Information Commission in October last year. It is headed by Mahinda Gammanpila and the members are S. G. Punchihewa, T. Selvakumaran, Salim Marzook and Kishali Pinto Jayawardena. The RTI Act was one of the 100-day pledges of the Unity government. It upholds Article 14A of the Constitution which guarantees access to information and fosters a culture of transparency and accountability while combating corruption.

“Implementation of the RTI law is one of the key new year resolutions of the Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media Ministry in 2017,” the Deputy Minister said.