Top departments reluctant to give information under RTI law
ISLAMABAD: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Provincial Assembly has released the details of MPAs who availed themselves of medical facilities from the public exchequer; however the same information sought under the Freedom of Information Act 2002 is still awaited from National Assembly and Senate despite passage of almost a month.
This scribe sent an information request to the National Assembly, the Senate and all the four provincial assemblies on April 18, 2017. The information request was sent to all the assemblies on the same date. However Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while once again leading from the front in providing certified information under the Right to Information Act 2013 has released the required information on May 10, 2017.
On April 18, this scribe sent an information request to the National Assembly and Senate Secretariat for the provision of certified information about total number and names of the MNAs and Senators who availed themselves of health facilities on public money during last two tenures i.e. from 2008-13 and 2013 till todate.
Similarly this scribe also requested for certified Information about total amount sanctioned to each of the MNA and Senators who availed themselves of health facility from abroad (name of the MNA, total amount sanctioned to him, from which country he received health treatment).
The same information request was also sent to all the four provincial assemblies but only Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Provincial Assembly responded to this query whereas remaining assemblies chose not to answer. This scribe has registered a complaint on the relevant forums against the authorities concerned and requested to ensure the provision of required information. Though, the performance of Information Commission of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is not exemplary but the same is the case with other information commissions as well.
On August 16, 2016, this reporter sent an information request to the Pakistan State Life Insurance Corporation (PSLIC) for providing him with certified information about the number of unclaimed benefits cases.
However, despite passage of almost two months the PSLIC management gave no response after which the matter was brought to the Federal Ombudsman. Despite repeated attempts through phone calls and official correspondence, no official appeared before the Federal Ombudsman.
The ombudsman then issued its verdict for providing this correspondent with the required information and take action against the authorities concerned. However, even after long time, the verdict is yet to be implemented.
Another RTI request was sent to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on September 30, 2016 for providing detailed information about its project of installing ferris-wheel. However, despite passage of almost four months no response came from the CDA.
This correspondent filed another RTI request to Ministry of Defence on October 14, 2016 for providing information about the total amount spent on the pension of retired security forces personnel in last three years and the details of perks and privileges given to them. The Defence Ministry refused to provide the information and termed it a matter of national security.
On October 14, 2016 this correspondent also filed an RTI request with the Establishment Division and the provincial government for providing him with information about the total number of MP scale appointees in public sector enterprises during last three years and the perks and privileges given to them. However, despite passage of almost four months no response came from any provincial government or Establishment Division.
The State Bank of Pakistan was sent an RTI request by this scribe on October 13, 2016 for providing certified information about the total money sent abroad from Pakistan in last three years. However, after almost two months the SBP refused to answer the query terming it against its policy.
This reporter also sent an RTI request to all the High Courts for providing him with information about the total number of pending cases, related to Anti-Terrorism Act and pending appeals against the death penalties. Only the Lahore High Court replied that their annual report till 2014 had been uploaded on the LHC website.
Another RTI request was sent to Ministry of Defence for proving information about the total number of projects being carried out by its entities like FWO, Fauji Fertilizer, NLC etc, their total annual income and the tax paid by them in last three years. But the ministry refused to provide information seeking refuge under Section 8 of the Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002.
This scribe sent another RTI request to all provincial home departments and Interior Ministry for providing information about the total number of people whose name is in the fourth schedule and their affiliation with any political or religious party. However, no response came from any government department yet.
The Higher Education Commission is the only institution which has provided information about the Prime Minister’s Laptop scheme as well as the details about scholarships awarded to students in the last five years.