Local govts fail to ensure access to information

ISLAMABAD, Sept 24: Almost all local governments, including that of Rawalpindi, have failed to implement sections 114 and 137 of the Local Government Ordinance (LGO) 2001, which guarantee citizens right to information and transparency. This was stated by the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI-Pakistan) in an official statement issued here on Sunday. It said all local governments had chosen to ignore budget rules, which provide an open, transparent and a participatory budget making process. That’s why the process of planning development projects and utilising public funds remaining extremely flawed, resulting it the huge waste of public funds. The centre termed it an act oi deliberate oversight and disregard of legal obligations. It said there was hardly any local government in the country which war fully implementing sections 114 and 137 of the Local Government Ordinance (LGO) 2001, which guaranteed citizens’ right to information and transparency.

The centre has asked the authorities concerned to immediately start implementing the budget rules as well as Section 114 and 137 of (LGO) 2001, which were the basis of democracy at the grassroots level. Section 114(5) and 137(3) of LGO 2001 require all local governments (e.g. union, town/tehsil and district) to place at a conspicuous place a statement of monthly and annual accounts, and other such necessary statements for public information. However, these legal requirements are completely ignored by the city governments, including those of Rawalpindi and Lahorei the statement said. Similarly, the budget rules require the town/tehsil administration and district governments to submit monthly expenditure and revenue receipt statements to the respective councils, but this requirement, too, is completely ignored despite the fact that such reports are extremely important for regular monitoring and facilitating timely corrective actions.

Section 137 of LGO 2001 clearly says that every citizen has the right to information about any office of the district, government, tehsil municipal administration and union council administration, the center has stressed. It said the section further provided that information about the staffing and preformance of the office of a local government during the preceding month would be displyed at a prominent place on the premises of the office for access by citizens.
Source: Dawn