A civil group, “the Collective for Decent Lanka” has requested the Right to Information Commission to make public its financial and cadre requirements and recruitment criteria to make sure that its employees including the Director General are appointed in a transparent and independent manner.
The letter follows:
Right to Information Commission
Room No. 203-204
Dear Mr. Chairman,
Right to Information on Independence of Commission – Staff & Financial Allocation
Regulations regarding implementation of Right to Information Act No.12 of 2016 was gazetted on 03 February (2017) with pre publicity notices carried in newspapers on 29 January and 02 February, that gave the understanding the Commission had by then established an office for its functioning. This therefore brings to our attention the most important issue of how independent the RTI Commission would be in public perception. The Act under Section 13 provides for the appointment of Officers and employees of the Commission.
The Act also provides for the Commission to secure necessary financial allocations from the Ministry of Finance. We firmly believe all such tasks and responsibilities cannot be delegated to other agencies and ministries since the Commission has to attend to all its tasks and responsibilities in a transparent, independent and accountable manner. Yet it is seen that for now the Commission is dependent on the Presidential Secretariat. One main reason for such dependency is due to non allocation of funds for the functioning of the Commission by the government in its 2017 budget and therefore the Commission receiving Rs.1.8 million from presidential allocations.
This is too meagre for the work the Commission will have to attend to during the current year. If therefore receiving funds through presidential allocations becomes a precedent, the RTI Commission will in no way be independent. Under such circumstances, if the Officers and, the office may turn out as one full of political henchmen. If that is to happen, the duties and functions of the Commission spelt out under Section 14 of the Act and the independence of the Commission itself will be wholly eroded.
In order to avoid such an unfortunate situation, we request the Commission to make public without any further delay,
01. the required total allocation for year 2017 and what steps or measures have been taken to secure that requirement
02. all details of the decided cadre for the office of the Commission provided for under section 13 of the Act
03. minimum educational requirements for all positions in the Commission, including that of the Director General 04. procedure to be adopted in recruiting all staff and employees, including the Director General and the time schedule for same.
Neville Ananda Attorney at law
Anton Marcus Trade union leader
Dr. Indi Akurugoda Academic,
Muditha Karunamuni Social activist
Kusal Perera Journalist
Amrit Muttukumaru Public Interest activist
Hasantha Gunaweera, Agriculture consultant & Community Development activist
Krishan Siriwardna, Communication Specialist – Poverty Alleviation
Neville Ananda Attorney at law – 0777876811
Kusal Perera, journalist – 0773508328