Islamabad :Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has applauded the initiatives of Ministry of Finance to form a multi-stakeholder forum to finalise the National Action Plan for Open Government Partnership.
The forum consists of representatives from provincial departments, federal ministries and civil society organizations. As a welcome step, all the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and AJK government have also been given representation in the forum. This will also pave the way in future for sub-national governments joining the OGP.
OGP is a multilateral forum and provide an “international platform for domestic reformers committed to make their governments more open, accountable and responsive to the citizens.” It was launched in 2011 and 75 countries have joined till date. Its aim is to secure concrete commitments from the governments to promote transparency, empower citizens and fight corruption. Pakistan joined OGP in December 2016.
The next step, after joining OGP, is to make a National Action Plan for 2 years depicting commitment that government will make to open up its institutions for the public. These commitments have to be discussed and finalised on a forum jointly represented by government and civil society. Pakistan first deadline to submit the NAP to OGP was quietly passed on June 30 this year without making enough headway towards the finalization of Plan. The deadline was later extended to October 31, 2017.
CPDI Executive Director Amer Ejaz said that the pace towards finalization of National Action Plan is slow and at present pace it will not be possible to meet the extended deadline either. It is imperative that all stakeholder gear up their efforts towards early finalization of Plan. He further expressed that membership of multi-stakeholder forum is highly weighted in favour of the government. Of 21 members of the forum, civil society has been offered only 6 positions in the forum. Another concern has been raised on the terms of reference of forum. The forum will examine and review the draft commitments received from federal lead ministries/provincial departments in the light of guidelines shared by OGP headquarters. Not enough discussion has been made at lead ministry level and the commitments received from lead ministries may not represent the views of civil society. CPDI has appealed the chair of the forum to initiate the exercise at lead ministry level so that civil society can make contribution while preparing the commitments.