Everyone in the training hall was surprised when an employee at Likhu Tamakoshi Rural Municipality of Dolakha district, Mr Raju Prasad Neupane, shared that he was appointed as the Information Officer only after NIC asked his office to appoint information officer in line with the Right to Information Act.
Moreover, another Information Officer from the neighboring district, Kavre, Ms Subita Dhungana, stated, “In Panchkhal Municipality, people are making more verbal requests than the written applications to seek information. We frequently update our information in our websites in order to be transparent and open towards the public. Even the budget has been allocated for citizen charter so to disclose the data and information about office activities.”
In the meantime, she expressed although she is an Information Officer, she is deprived of the every data and information of the office, which can be the biggest challenge for RTI implementation.
Moreover, Information Officer from Panauti Municipality, Kavre, Mr Indra Prasad Adhikari, said. “I’ve not received any written application for information from commoner. Even the journalists seek information through telephone.”
Kedar Singh Deuja from District Treasury Comptroller Office, Kavre, shared similar experience, “While looking at recent trend, journalists more than the general public are requesting for information.”
Such views from public information officers were recorded during the training Freedom Forum organized for PIOs in Kavre from 27 to 29August 2018, the information officers shared their curiosity and the confusions about the RTI provisions. A total of 21 PIOs with two female participants were trained on the importance of the RTI Act, and policies and provisions for maintaining transparency and accountability in the public agencies.
Information officer from Golanjor Municipality of Sindhuli, Tirtha Kumar Bhandari said, “Sometime before, review meeting were only the source of proactive disclosure. But now, there are some changes- quarterly reports are being disclosed through websites and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. TV screens have been used as a tool for immediate information.”
Lack of electricity depriving people to view office disclosure
On the other hand, Information Officer from Phikkal Municipality of the same district, Narayan Prasad Adhikari, pointed out the lack of infrastructures and human resource in his office. He however said his office discloses the information through citizen charter, apps and website. Owing to load shedding, the service seekers are deprived of viewing office disclosures/information.
More than 85% participants were from the local levels and the remaining represented the District Administrative Office, District Treasury Comptroller office, District Health Office and various local government offices and CS:MAP HEAD (Health, Education, Agriculture and Disaster) related offices from Sindhuli, Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Ramechhap, Makwanpur, Dolakhaand Okhaldhunga districts.
FF’s Executive Chief Tara Nath Dahal, General Secretary Dharmendra Jha and Chair Hari Binod Adhikari facilitated the training.