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Watchful public will lead to more efficient govt. service: Mangala on RTI

 

As the government celebrated its second Right to Information (RTI) day this year, Mass Media and Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera believed that a more watchful public will lead the way to an efficient government service.

Previous occurrences around the world has proved that when people have access to information and are watching, the public service is forced to perform, Minister Samaraweera said.

Addressing a workshop organized by the Department of Government Information held today at the Global Towers in Wellawatte, the Minister quoted economist Joseph Stiglitz and his theory of asymmetric information to highlight the need to have the RTI.

“Prof Stiglitz says that due to the ability to gain access to information, public officials are forced to inform, which is not otherwise available to the general public. Officials are only able to impose policies on people serving them”, he explained.  

“When the system of access to and distribution of information is improved, one can minimize the misuse of information by public officials”, he added.

The Minister also dismissed allegations that the RTI would simply discourage public officials from carrying out their work due to the fear of censure.

“These arguments have been put forward by those who don’t want this implemented. We have continuously trained government officials and spoken to them about how they can do their job without breaching any laws and serve the people more efficiently”, he said.  

They have also appointed 3,000 Information Officers to government institutions.

The RTI Act which came into force in June of 2016 has since helped many discover information previously not available.

The Minister pointed out that the mother of Roshen Chanaka who was murdered in a protest 2011, was able to get the report on an inquiry because of the RTI.

“The report was complete in 2011 and was handed over to the President at the time. But it was not made public until now”, said Samaraweera.   

The Minister who stressed that the RTI was one promise made at the election campaign which the government has kept, said they would work to further strengthen it through their Vision 2025.