RTI bill approved by Senate committee without taking suggestion from civil society: CPDI

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage has approved right to information bill tabled by government on May 15, 2017 with undue haste and without listening to citizens, civil society groups and journalists. Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) requested through a letter dated May 17, 2017 to Chairman of the committee that the Right of Access to Information Bill 2017 under its consideration is restrictive like Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 it seeks to repeal. Furthermore, CPDI also shared specific recommendations with Chairman of the committee to improve right to information bill. It is one of the most important democratic norms that committees listen to concerns of citizens and their groups during the legislative process but Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage chose not to address concerns of right to information experts convey through letters, print and electronic media. Instead of empowering proposed independent and autonomous information commission, the bill approved by Senate committee empowers federal ministers to decide what people should or should not know.

Executive Director, Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI), Mr. Amer Ejaz said through the statement that it is mind – boggling as to how will ministers resolve conflict of interest in deciding whether information should or should not be shared with the people. Of what use would be the autonomy and independence of information commission if it does not have the power to disclose information in public interest?”

It should be noted that The Centre for Law and Democracy, Canada, which ranks right to information laws on their level of compliance with standards of effective right to information legislation, has given this right to information bill only 105 points out of 150. Sri Lanka scores 131, India 128, the Maldives 116 and Bangladesh 107. CPDI urges federal government to seek input of RTI experts, civil society and journalists when right to information bill is sent to National Assembly.

Budget tracking smartphone app launched

PESHAWAR: The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) launched here on Tuesday the country’s first ever cell-phone-based application to let people track budget allocations for different sectors.

Raja Shoaib, CPDI’s programme manager for budget watch programme, told Dawn at the launch of the ‘Budget Tracker’ mobile application that it was the first ever effort to bring information about annual budget into the hands of the citizens.

“It is a unique application. This is the best tool available to provide information about all provinces’ budget to the people. It is all in their hands now,” he said.

He said since budget was in English language so the application was also in English, but once this effort was successful they could think of bringing in such information in other local languages spoken across the country to spread information as well as make people aware of budgetary allocations in different sectors.

CPDI’s provincial coordinator Shamsul Hadi said the application could be downloaded from app store on any android or smartphone free of cost. He said it provided people with all the information they wanted to search regarding budget. There was also option for search, comment and like or dislike with this application, he added.

Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2017


Budget tracker mobile app launched

The Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has launched a mobile application that would provide complete development budget information to people, CPDI Executive Director Amer Ejaz said. Speaking at the launching ceremony, Punjab Assembly Standing Committee on Local Government Chairman Abdul Razaq Dhillon said access to district development budget will not only increase transparency and public participation in local governance but will also prove to be a great step towards strengthening local governments. CPDI Budget Tracker Mobile App was in line with the vision of the Punjab government on e-governance.


Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2017.


Right to Information Act Govt urged to appoint information commissioners

LAHORE: The Right to Information (RTI) Coalition on Thursday urged the Punjab government to appoint information commissioners and provide staff to the Punjab Information Commission instead of showing lack of interest in fully implementing the Transparency and Right to Information Act introduced in 2013 to ensure correct working of the government.

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