Freedom of Information

Having access to information is all what power is all about. Keep it hidden, and you have the best tool to carry out corruption with. This new law, promulgated by the Governer, is under the circumstances, a godsend. If we have access to how these public bodies are being run, maybe we can then influence them to be a bit better.

From the news

Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan on Thursday promulgated the ‘Sindh Freedom of Information Ordinance 2006’.

This ordinance has been promulgated a second time and it will come into force immediately. It aims to create transparency and openness in the functioning of the government and to check corruption and misuse of power.

Preamble: To ensure that the citizens of province of Sindh have improved access to public records and to make the provincial government more accountable to its citizens.

Subject to provisions of this Ordinance and the rules, each public body shall ensure that all records are properly maintained. The acts and subordinate legislation such as rules and regulations, notification, by-laws, manuals, orders having the force of law in the Sindh province shall be duly published and made available at a reasonable price at an adequate number of outlets so that access thereof is easier, less time-consuming and less expensive.

Lets hope it stands up to its ideals. Public bodies now have 21 days to provide any information (apart from excluded ones below) to any member of the public who wishes to access them. All they have to do is provide an application.

Also, on what information will be public domain…

According to the ordinance, with the exclusion of certain record all public bodies are declared to be the public record, namely policies and guidelines; transactions involving acquisition and disposal of property and expenditure undertaken by a public body in the performance of its duties; information regarding grant of licenses, allotments and other benefits and privileges and contracts and agreements made by a public body; final orders and decisions, including decisions relating to members of public; and any other record which may be notified by government as public record for the purposes of this Ordinance.

According to the ordinance, exclusion of certain record shall apply to the record of all public bodies, namely, noting on the files; minutes of meetings; any intermediary opinion or recommendation; record of the banking companies and financial institutions relating to the accounts of their customers; record relating to defence forces, defence installations or connected therewith or ancillary to defence and national security; record declared as classified by government; record relating to the personal privacy of any individual; record of private documents furnished to a public body either on an express or implied condition that information contained in such documents shall not be disclosed to a third person; and any other record which Government may, in public interest, exclude from the purview of this Ordinance.

3 Comments so far

  1. Wahidi (unregistered) on August 12th, 2006 @ 6:23 am

    All that they call as “inclusive” in the ordinances are things that are already available ….policies, laws, decisions affecting the citizens, information on benefits etc are already available to the public….
    the only thing of relevance to this ordinance would be the expenditures by a public body…and i doubt if that would total up right:P…..
    and Think about it…..why would i drop in an application form?….like who would do it?….Cowasjee and a few others like him might…but that is not what you call “freedom of information”….it should be available without any application forms….

  2. mansoor (unregistered) on August 12th, 2006 @ 10:41 am

    wahidi: the most benefiting from this act would be newspapers and other media sources. This way, more ‘official’ numbers would be available to the rest of us.

    application forms allow for tracking of requests… the control of which is quite important from a bearacratic point of view. i did like the 21 day limit to provide the information though.

  3. Umer Zaman (unregistered) on August 12th, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

    ROFL (Rolling on floor laughing), you guys think it’ll be transparent here.. someday…
    damnnnnnnnn my stomach hurts.. stop it ppl.. please stop it.. =D

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