Cash Strapped RTI Commission To Be Flooded With Appeals And Training Requests

Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,Featured News,News,STORIES |

The Right To Information (RTI) Commission which came into effect early in late December 2016 will soon face a major crisis. Despite the body being seriously cash-strapped, appeals from information requests submitted to Public Authorities will start pouring in by end of this month.

Gayantha Karunatilake – Minister of Mass Media

Since February 3rd, when the RTI Act was operationalised across the country, there has been a rush of information requests from citizens, ranging from service delivery to demands for transparency from the Office of the President downwards. Many of these will eventually end in appeals before the Commission.

This problem is worse given that though the Ministry of Media was claiming that it had carried out trainings for information officers during the past three month, the responses by Public Authorities to information requestors last week have been extremely confused. Even those information officers who have been appointed say they have been exposed only to general awareness raising on RTI but have not been given specific training on legal issues relating to the RTI Act which is the main demand. Many of them intend to appeal to the RTI Commission in this regard.

But it is unclear as to how the Commission itself is going to cope with this situation. The Colombo Telegraph learns that though the Commission office has been established at the BMICH, the Commission members themselves are working virtually free and that even the clerical staff is working at minimum wage.

‘Even though the Ministry of Mass Media was allocated Rs. 25 million to carry out work with regard to the ‘implementation’ of the RTI in Sri Lanka, the RTI Commission does not possess the required funding. This will prove to be a major issue in carrying out its functions.’

“The RTI Commission will have to wait till the 2018 national budget is presented to receive the necessary funding to carry out its work without any hassle,” a source pointed out.

According to the RTI Act, the Commission shall have its own Fund in an effort to ensure the independence of the Commission. However as two of the Commissioners were only appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena by end December, the Government is quoting this as a reason why a separate budget allocation was not given to the Commission in the 2017 Budget. The Commission chair Mahinda Gammanpila and two Commissioners, Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena and SG Punchihewa were appointed by 1st October 2016. Commissioners AWA Salam and Selvy Thiruchandran were appointed by the last week of December 2016.

Currently the Presidential Secretariat is giving allocations as and when the Commission requests which is a serious constraint. It has applied for Rs. 3 million for the Commission in a supplementary estimate presented to Parliament recently.

According to the funding component in the RTI Act, “(1) The Commission shall have its own Fund into which shall be credited (a) all such sums of money as may be voted upon from time to time by Parliament for the use of the Commission; and (b) donations, gifts or grants from any source whatsoever, whether in or outside Sri Lanka. (2) Where any money is received by way of donations, gifts or grants under subsection (1)(b), the sources and purpose for which such donation, grant or gift was made available shall be made public. (3) There shall be paid out of the Fund all such sums of money required to defray the expenditure incurred by the Commission in the exercise, discharge and performance of its powers, duties and functions.”

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8 Responses to Cash Strapped RTI Commission To Be Flooded With Appeals And Training Requests

  1. 2
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    How can you operated RTI without funding? RTI will be empty talk and non binding organization in near future ##### It is (RTI)lame duck. These are hipcoracy of UNP-Ranil W’ ,,,, good governances and rule of law? This is the project has been added another RTI by US base $$$$$$$$$$$$!

    Susiripala Alahkhon
    February 12, 2017 at 10:10 pm
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      Gayantha Karunatilake – Minister of Mass Media RE:Cash Strapped RTI Commission To Be Flooded With Appeals And Training Requests “The Right To Information (RTI) Commission which came into effect early in late December 2016 will soon face a major crisis. Despite the body being seriously cash-strapped, appeals from information requests submitted to Public Authorities will start pouring in by end of this month.” Q. Where is the money? It is with Mahinda Rajapaksa, Basil Rajapaksa, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Shiranti Rajapaksa ,cronies and crooks, and some of whom are in the Yahapalanaya Govt. So can you make an appeal to the above crooks to shell out some money as the FCID is being handcuffed by Sirisena?

      Amarasiri
      February 12, 2017 at 11:55 pm
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  2. 3
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    Who in the world gve everything free ? Everybody may ask. Stupid minister or stupid top officials ? govt should a certain amount time and salry for that officla and should chage some average price for each page.

    jim softy
    February 13, 2017 at 12:40 am
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      jim softy “Stupid minister or stupid top officials ?” They are stupid all right, the average IQ in the Land occupied by the Paras is 79. Can’t they find some with IQ’s well above 79, and charge Rs. 1,000 for the first page, and Rs. 100 for each additional page?

      Amarasiri
      February 13, 2017 at 5:31 am
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    It is starting to appear that moves are being made to protect information that proves the guilt of the Rajapaksas criminal network!!? Who is really cunningly engineering these delay tactics and attempting to prevent these documents and information from reaching the public!? This network must be investigated by INTERPOL and given to this government to help them take action… They need the help of INTERPOL more than any training or funding…

    Sunil
    February 13, 2017 at 5:04 am
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  4. 2
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    Everything this government tries to do that is good is undermined and sabotaged. But no one is fired and the buffoons carry on. In some instances the president is directly responsible for stalling investigations and covering up. In others those in the UNP do the same thing. It is all cloak and dagger politics with the public taken for a ride by back boneless leaders who look the other way and tolerate the mess. Stifling funds from the RTI commission is a predictable tactic deployed to discredit the architects who should have known this would happen. Classic example is military intelligence who carried out all the disgusting killing on the orders of Gota and Pappa and in some instances just to make money for themselves. When the investigators get close, down comes the order the stop the investigation. If the suspects are in custody then a little bullying is employed and the judges used to being shit upon by Pappa in the old days don’t wait for the phone to ring and the threats made. They immediately release the suspects on bail and put off the case.

    Wera
    February 13, 2017 at 1:13 pm
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    CT, ” The Colombo Telegraph learns that though the Commission office has been established at the BMICH, the Commission members themselves are working virtually free and that even the clerical staff is working at minimum wage. ‘Even though the Ministry of Mass Media was allocated Rs. 25 million to carry out work with regard to the ‘implementation’ of the RTI in Sri Lanka, the RTI Commission does not possess the required funding. This will prove to be a major issue in carrying out its functions.’” Don’t cry through your nose like a toy-broken kindergartener. There are more than enough state sector employees who are doing nothing except draining out and wasting tax payers hard earned money. Government does not have to pay or allocated additional funds to implement RTI because those “time eating” state sector employees are already paid their salaries. It is just a matter of organizing and getting the acts together. These state sector employees are inefficient creatures cursed by the society. Government must look for ways and means to get these time wasters to do something for the salary they get.

    silva
    February 13, 2017 at 4:20 pm
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  6. 0
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    UNP democracy which cannot bring to Moral and Ethics to the our society. The RTI is out-fit non working organization without funding by same under the UNP governances. They make big story before RTI came into being, currently the importance get into freedom of information from RTI for millions of citizens has lost that all hopes within few weeks> The party of UNP has just give to broken promised to public until they get to elected to Parliament ,by gain positions in ruling governess!

    Susiripala Alakhon
    February 13, 2017 at 4:21 pm
    Reply

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