Freedom of Information Ordinance not being implemented -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Freedom of Information Ordinance not being implemented

HYDERABAD: The government is considering introducing some changes in the Freedom of Information Ordinance (FOI), as it is commonly known, as the existing legislation is not being implemented in letter and spirit.

The FOI 2002 has not achieved the desired result as relevant ministries, departments and other concerned quarters have not taken this ordinance seriously and have failed to provide required information to citizens irrespective of their profession.

For instance, this correspondent made a request to the Federal Health Ministry about two weeks ago to provide details of the progress made on the National Program for Family Planning and Primary Healthcare.

However, no written reply was received from the office of the federal secretary Health, Islamabad, about the output and progress of the program, especially in Sindh. The request was made keeping in view the guidelines for the FOI and the request was submitted through registered post along with a copy of the National Identity Card and a challan of Rs 50 that was paid to the national exchequer at the main branch of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) at Hyderabad.

The challan was paid on May 8, 2008 and the request was posted through registered mail on May 9, but surprisingly this correspondent received a telephone call from the office of the federal health secretary on May 12, 2008 asking him what he had sent.

“This is a request for seeking information about the national program and I have mentioned this in the application form,” was the reply of this correspondent and the officer concerned asked as to why he had not mentioned the name of the health secretary. He asked the correspondent to send a covering letter for secretary health, Islamabad.

Despite completing the not-so-important task, the Health Ministry has not shared the details, under the Freedom of Information Act, 2002, of the national program that is being run in Sindh and whose performance remains questionable.

Officials of the Health Department of Sindh have always shown their keenness to work on this program because of lucrative perks but no significant change has been observed in the mortality rate or family planning activities.
Source: The News
Date:5/29/2008