Government committed to effective information flow: Minister Sharma

Kathmandu- Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma emphasized on recognition of right to information (RTI) as the responsibility of public agencies so that information flow would be further effective. Addressing a programme organized at the Office of President-Sheetal Niwas- on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of National Information Commission today, Minister Sharma asserted that it was not optional for public agencies to share information to the citizens, but an obligation whenever they are demanded. Sharma called for effective implementation of RTI to guarantee citizens' easy access to information of public concerns and importance, which has role on strengthening of democracy and sustainable peace. "The RTI practice should be increased also to implement the fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution. The government is firm towards it.

Every public agency has designated information officer to provide information on matters of public concerns sought by the public," the Minister reminded. Furthermore, the Minister said that spokespersons are designated to share public information through media. All three-tier governments are putting this provision into practice. 'Hello Sarkar', the hotline, is also in operation under the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers to facilitate citizens in seeking information and make public service delivery more effective. According to her, the incumbent government had emphasized simplifying service delivery and ensuring good-governance since, she argued, public agencies should automatically make some information public while some upon enquiry to assure transparency and good-governance. She clarified that the government's performance improves if RTI is enforced correctly. The Minister also informed that government was responding actively with investigation and action in case of information on irregularities that are brought to public through media stories. She also lauded the role of media which are boosting RTI promotion. Sharma vowed information update and proactive disclosure. Existing law could be revised to suit changing need. The suggestions from public would be kept in mind for effective RTI enforcement and public service delivery. "Seeking information is not pestering public employees but making public service transparent," he reminded, pledging security of information providers. During the programme, Chief Information Commissioner at NIC, Mahendra Man Gurung, thanked Nepal government for its role and support for the practice, protection and promotion of RTI. He also committed to forwarding further activities so that RTI regime would be expanded and strengthened across the country. On the occasion, FNJ President Bipul Pokharel said FNJ was active for effective implementation of laws related to RTI. He expressed the belief that democracy would be strong if citizens practice RTI effectively. Similarly, RTI campaigner Umid Bagchand mentioned that RTI is one of the best tools to empower citizens. The Commission was established on Baishakh 22, 2065 BS for the protection, promotion and exercise of RTI in accordance with RTI Act, 2064 BS. The Constitution of Nepal has guaranteed RTI as the fundamental right.

On the occasion, President Paudel presented awards to information officers and campaigners for their outstanding performance related to RTI. Parshuram Sah of Siraha municipality-7, Yadunath Banjara of Pokhara metropolitan city, Indra Prasad Banjara of Hetauda sub-metropolis-8 and Aditya Dahal of Melamchi municipality-10 received 'Binay Kasajoo Best RTI Campaigner Award'. Best Information Officer Award was presented to Lalit Bahadur Budha of Panchadewal Binayak municipality in Achham, Kishor Kumar Waiba of Ghyanglekh rural municipality in Sindhuli, Tul Bahadur BK of Galkot municipality in Baglung, Tek Bahadur Khatri of Dangisharan rural municipality in Dang and Dambar Rogu of Dhankuta municipality. Section officer at the Commission Harihar Karki, nayab subba Shanta Neupane, accountant Laxman Aryal and computer operator Gaurab Gurung were awarded with Best Employee Award.

Source: RSS