The responsibility of implementing the Right to Information Act has been vested in the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media. A Gazette notification relating to it will be issued on February 3, Minister Gayantha Karunathilake said when he met the Chairman and members of the RTI Commission for a special discussion at the Parliamentary Complex on January 10. Deputy Minister Karunaratne Paranawithane and Ministry Secretary Nimal Bopage were also present on the occasion.
The Chairman of the Commission is Mahinda Gammanpila. Its other members are Kishali Pinto Jayawardene, S.G. Punchihewa, A.W.A. Salam and Silvi Thiruwandran.
Minister Karunatillake said once the Gazette notification is issued on February 3, every citizen would have the right to obtain any information he or she desired from any government institution. The RTI Act was designed to ensure transparency in administration and an opportunity to minimise corruption.
The implementation of the RTI Act fulfilled one of the major election pledges of the government.
The RTI Act introduced in Parliament on August 4 last year gained the unanimous approval of all 225 MPs in the August assembly. The Act stated that it should be implemented within six months of its approval by Parliament.
Karunathilake said, initially, the Ministry created an awareness about the Act among heads of institutions, including Ministry Secretaries.
Awareness had been created among Government Agents, Divisional Secretaries and Provincial Council Secretaries too .Workshops were also held for the benefit of media personnel especially provincial journalists.
Several other workshops are planned within the ensuing week. Minister Karunatillake said almost all Ministries and institutions have already named information officers after making selections. It is hoped to provide a training for all of them as well by summoning them to a single venue and thereafter present official appointment letters to them.
It is hoped to implement this exercise in all institutions after February 3. Minister Karunatilleke said they were extremely happy and pleased to have introduced the RTI Act after obtaining parliamentary approval to ensure its implementation within six months to make it a reality within a given time frame.
The Act clearly stated the information people could obtain. There was no possibility to provide any information considered inimical to National Security. Similarly, an individual’s private information ,such as medical reports, also cannot be obtained. The actual benefit of this Act would accrue to the people.