27 September, 2020

Blog

Dear Prime Minister, FOI Act Is Generally Good, But Changes Are Needed

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Dear Prime Minister

Thank you for sending me today the draft of the proposed Freedom of Information Act. It is generally good, and I am glad that Section 8 makes it clear that basic information should be readily available. I would suggest the following changes

a) Add to 8 (2) b (vii) the Declarations of Assets of Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Secretaries of Ministries, Chairs of Public Authorities and all officials responsible for contracts or expenditure over the value of Rs 1 million. Such Declarations should be posted electronically. Gifts over the value of Rs 500,000 received by such individuals should also be recorded.

Also add in 8 (2) b (i) the word ‘qualifications and job descriptions’

Making this mandatory with regard to all employees may be excessive and may defeat the purpose, and it may be more useful to specify a level above which such information should be made public. Otherwise the report, and the electronic version, may be too bulky to be useful.

b) Section 8 should make it clear Non-Governmental Organizations as described in Section 46 should also make public information as specified, and conform to the provisions of the Act. This cannot be left implicit, and in terms of public authorities coming under a particular Ministry. It may also be desirable to ensure that all Ministries make public the names of those NGOs for which they are responsible.

c) In Section 25, the decision should be communicated within fourteen days. The information (not the access to such information) should be provided within a week of arriving at the decision. Any extension should be notified, with a deadline should be not more than two weeks more.

d) The Act should come into force the day after it has been certified. There is no reason to delay six months (Section 1)

e) Information otherwise classified should be made available after five years, not ten (Section 5 (2))

f) The CEO should be the designated officer too until such an officer is appointed (Section 23)

g) There should be specification of a date whereby information is supplied if an appeal succeeds (Sections 32 and 33)

h) What is the need for Section 10 and then Section 40? They could be combined.

i) Also, is 8 (3) necessary if 8 (1) is observed?

I hope other Members of Parliament also respond. However it would be best, to ensure adherence to the norms of Parliament, that this draft be submitted to the relevant Consultative Committee of Parliament. It is sad that only a couple of Consultative Committees have thus far met, even though the Cabinet was constituted three months ago.

Also I trust your Party will not exercise undue pressure with regard to immediate dissolution of Parliament, since it is important that this Act and the Act on strengthening accountability are passed.
Yours sincerely

Rajiva Wijesinha, MP

*Letter posted to the Prime Minister, as a response to the draft Freedom of Information Act

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 10
    2

    Mr. Rajive Wijesinghe MP

    Could you kindly post the entire draft of the Act you have received from the PM, on the CT website, so not only the MPs but also all other Sri Lankans can asses the draft.

    Thank you

    • 6
      1

      Why you as a responsible politician who worked for a change, cant sense it about these issues internally. Each and every bit about serious issues must not be released to the public this way.

      • 4
        1

        What a dumb proposal Samule? Is this the “openness” you talk about?

        You are suggesting that RW should “hush hush” all the weaknesses of the neha palanaya gang? You are the sort of people who turn dictators by rationalising your corrupt egoistic intentions in this manner.

        Shame to you.

        Going to the substance of RW’s colic itself, he is suggesting that Such income Declarations (of Ministers, Secretaries et al)should be posted electronically, including “Gifts” over the value of Rs 500,000 received by such individuals.

        Is he proposing to institutionlise corruption under “openness” or is this another silly idea coming straight from the Northwest London Polytechnic?

  • 15
    4

    What a show off !

    Did RW ask for a public response ? You have a major problem, Rajiva.

  • 3
    3

    Sounds reasonable.

  • 14
    2

    This clown can enjoy MP salary and perks only till they dissolve this current parliament

    He is a war criminal who has glorified the rapes in Vanni….

  • 3
    1

    The Dons in their declaration on the 2015 presidential election, refer to the “………………………..alarming levels of human rights violations by police personnel”

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/let-us-act-decisively-in-the-name-of-generations-to-come-declaration-by-dons-on-2015-presidential-election/

    These go on even now, inflicted on media personnel who report human rights violations by the police.

    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=37723

    The President should take urgent steps to prevent such violations.
    Else, violations during the pending parliamentary elections will be much worse.

  • 6
    1

    A copy of the draft FOI Act would have been forwarded to every MP in Parliament. Rajiva is trying to impress as if only he received a copy. A publicity seeker number one. Suffering from a complex indeed, seeing how Ranil is becoming popular, consolidating his position as PM.

    • 7
      1

      But he is not caring his overgrown nose hairs.

      Yes, he is suffering from public attraction syndrome to the very same manner DJ does.

  • 3
    0

    Shouldn’t he be kicked out for breaching parliamentary confidentiality ?

    Surely a public response is a breach of his conditions of employment ?

    Here’s the chance kick him out once and for all !

  • 0
    9

    Bravo Professor Wijesinha; what a fine piece of intellectual work!

    You, Leader of the Liberal Party of Sri Lankka, are a genuine patriot Sir

  • 1
    8

    Rajiv’s father was the secretary general of the parliament. So Rajiv has a good grasp of the parliament rules and procedures; than any lay person. He learnt them when he was a young lad

  • 0
    6

    Well said Rajive Wijesinha. It is good that you have posted your reply on CT. Many MPs do not read these letters. Also those who do, do not declare their opinions. Your action in copying your reply to CT readers ensures that we get a sharp insight in to the contents of the Act. and it’s shortcomings.

  • 4
    0

    Prof:

    I thought you are an intelligent individual but by publishing the Amendment you seek (for all the good reasons) you have broken the Rule of Confidentiality”.

    “Confidentiality is a set of rules or a promise that limits access or places restrictions on certain types of information”

    If the GOSL wanted the draft to be in the public domain I am sure they would have published it and invited suggestions and I am not sure if the is the case.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.