Government Agencies Don’t Heed Freedom of Information Act? The offices of the President and Prime Minister are far behind! I Sri Lanka Latest News

Verite Research says that the majority of public authorities proactively publish less than 40% of the required information. According to the notification issued in Colombo on September 9, 2023, as required by the Freedom of Information Act, only a small amount of information has been disclosed through the Internet. Sri Lanka Latest News

A study by Verité Research found that more than 70% of public authorities disclosed less than 40% of the information required by the Freedom of Information Act online. According to the study, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Public Administration have achieved the highest positions in terms of progressive information disclosure. These ministries have published more than half of the information that should be published on their websites.

On the other hand, the Office of the President and the Office of the Prime Minister are said to have posted less than 20% of the prescribed information on their websites. Also, the Ministry of Technology has been the least compliant with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act for the progressive publication of information.

“The study also found that there is a very high language bias among many public authorities. Only the President’s Office and the Ministry of Wildlife have regularly published information on the Internet in all three languages. Overall, all public authorities have published nearly half of all relevant information in English. But the amount published in Sinhala is only 37%. An even lower 29% was published in Tamil.

The findings were published by Verity Research in a study titled ‘Progressive Disclosure of Information Under Sri Lanka’s Freedom of Information Act: Ranking of Public Authorities’.

Speaking at the launch of the study, Dr Nishan de Mel, Executive Director of Verity Research, commented on the prospects of democracy.

The government has an obligation to share information that the people should be entitled to. The regulations of the Freedom of Information Act have stated that information should be shared proactively and the information to be published through the internet has also been specifically stated.

According to the Freedom of Information Act and its existing regulations, ministers and public authorities are required to regularly publish reports, inform the public about current projects and communicate online updates about their operations, budgets and services.

In the study by Verité Research, 29 ministries and the offices of the President and Prime Minister were assessed for compliance with online progressive disclosure requirements under the Freedom of Information Act. This assessment was based on two dimensions which were: (a) whether the information was disclosed proactively, and (b) the ability to use the information disclosed, etc.

Based on the values obtained from this evaluation, Verity Research also calculated the openness of the government in Sri Lanka, where it was revealed that the openness of the government has increased from 25% to 33% in the 6 years from 2017 to 2022. But the increase is at a low level in terms of the amount,” Verity Research said in the announcement about its study.

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