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National

January 20, 2015

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KP Assembly Secretariat tries to conceal info despite RTI’s enactment

PESHAWAR: The provincial assembly secretariat has refused to provide information even about matters that have been notified under the Right to Information (RTI) law enacted by the legislature. It has also devised a novel way to conceal information under the Right to Information Act 2013 in case it is compelled to provide it under the law.
This scribe submitted two requests on December 26, 2014 under Section 7 of the RTI Act asking the assembly secretariat to provide information about the posts created in the provincial assembly by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led coalition government and the number of vehicles in use of the speaker, deputy speaker and other staff members of the assembly along with the POL expenses.
The assembly secretariat provided incomplete information on January 2 in response to the first request about the posts that were created by the provincial government. It provided the details of posts created after the enactment of the RTI Act instead of those generated during the entire tenure of the present government. The provisions of the RTI law do not bar providing information about the period before this law came into being. The assembly secretariat violated the RTI law by not responding to the second request seeking information about the vehicles, POL and other expenses. Under Section 11 (1) of the RTI Act the assembly secretariat was bound to respond within 10 days and if the request required more time it may take another 10 days for responding to it. But it did not respond to the request even after the passage of 25 days.
It was even more shocking when this scribe came to know that the file having the entire information sought by him was accordingly prepared by the concerned quarters and filed.
As there were reports that the provincial assembly speaker and deputy speaker were spending millions of rupees on POL of their vehicles and that the speaker, Asad Qaisar, has even provided an assembly secretariat-owned car (A 9122) to

the deputy commissioner of his native district Swabi, so a request seeking information about total number of official vehicles in use of the speaker, deputy speaker and staff members along with the POL and other expenses was submitted to the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the provincial assembly on December 26.
The data sought in the request could otherwise be obtained from other sources within hours, but retrieving it through a request under RTI was actually meant to judge the operation of the law meant for effecting transparency in public affairs as claimed and trumpeted by the incumbent government. The data gathered from the sources in Accountant General (AG) and other relevant offices now available with The News shows that the assembly has 35 vehicles five of which are in use of the speaker and two of these vehicles are in the use of the deputy speaker.
It also shows that thespeaker and deputy speaker have spent Rs65.29 million on the POL of the seven vehicles in their use over the last nineteen months.The expenses include Rs47.97 million spent by the speaker and Rs17.32 million by the deputy speaker on the POL of their vehicles. Thos shows a sizeable increase in POL expenses in comparison to the amount spent by their predecessors.
In his first month (June 2013), the incumbent speaker of the provincial assembly spent Rs2,17, 442 while his deputy spent Rs71,480. However, their predecessors, speaker Kiramatullah Khan spent Rs2,64,033 and his deputy Khushdil Khan Rs1,53,242 in the first four months (March to June 2008) of their tenure. In the first month of their tenure Kiramatullah Khan spent Rs36,080 while Khushdil Khan’s expenditures on POL in that month remained just Rs11,164.
Even in December last when the prices of POL dropped considerably, the provincial assembly speaker’s vehicles consumed POL of Rs2,41,197 while that of the deputy speaker spent Rs1,06,495.

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