What is RTI?
Under Article 19-A of the Constitution, RTI (Right to information) is a fundamental right of every citizen of Pakistan to have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restriction imposed by law. A citizen in addition to a government department can also have access to information of a private body which is substantially financed by the government. RTI is based upon the principle that citizens being tax payers are owners of public information. RTI boosts transparency, accountability, elimination of corruption and improvement of public service delivery.
How RTI can help you?
The information got through RTI enables citizens to hold public officials accountable for their actions, to comment upon their performance, to conduct survey on the basis of data received through RTI and to indicate gaps and weaknesses of public bodies.
The government also benefits from RTI by becoming aware of gaps and weaknesses of public bodies. RTI also helps public officials by making it easier for them to carry out their duties more efficiently. Following are some practical examples of benefits of RTI;
- The process and official fees for getting a driving license or transferring property, and if a public official asks for more than that, you can challenge him.
- The reason for no action on long pending re-construction of a broken bridge near your area. If funds have been allocated and no related activity has taken place, you can call for action.
- If local development schemes are not completed or are of poor quality, you can get details of the contracts to demand for proper execution of the work from the contractors.
- How many teachers’ positions were sanctioned and how many are actually working or attending your child’s school? If absenteeism of teachers is high, you can push for action.
- If any funds have been allocated for the veterinary dispensary or hospital of your area, and if it is closed for long or does not have necessary staff present, you can highlight the issue for government’s attention.
- What services and facilities are budgeted for by the local government, or how many staff (e.g. teachers, medical staff) are supposed to be working in them? With this information, you can demand for these services or ensure that staff works properly.
- If the recruitment process for a certain government job was transparent and the decision was based on selection criteria and rankings.