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Federal information commission to ensure implementation of Right to Information Act: Chaudhry

Federal information commission to ensure implementation of Right to Information Act: Chaudhry

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Monday formally notified the Federal Information Commission with an aim to expedite the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act across the country.

Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Chaudhry said that if departments failed to provide information sought from them under the law, citizens can approach the commission, which will ensure that the requested data is released within a month. If the information is not released within 20 days, the citizens can take the matter to a civil court.

Chaudhry said that the Act will particularly benefit journalists, as they will be able to confirm information from government officials and also keeps tabs on ongoing developments on the governance front.

The implementation of the Act will also be useful for citizens who come forward with evidence of corruption, as they will be able to check if the government is acting upon the information provided, the minister said.

The information minister said RTI laws were already being implemented in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI was in power. Though he did not comment over implementation in Sindh and Balochistan, Chaudhry claimed that "systems that are in place [in those provinces] are being hindered".

He also took a jibe at the opposition, repeating the government's stance on its refusal to appoint the opposition leader as the Public Accounts Committee's chairman.

"We only say that they (the opposition) let us audit the projects initiated by Nawaz Sharif, and then the PPP or PML-N can audit projects initiated by us. In their attempt to hinder this system, they insist that the younger brother [Shahbaz Sharif] should audit the projects initiated by his older brother," he said, terming the demand "unethical".

Chaudhry also touched upon the government's performance in its first 100 days. The information minister claimed that "there is no precedent" of the number of initiatives taken up by PTI in the past 100 days.

"There are six themes and 34 initiatives that we have taken and we have done a lot of work on them as well. You will see on the 29th," he said.

"The Right to Information Act in itself is a huge contribution," he added. Chaudhry also pointed out that a project to build a university for media sciences was underway.

"It is not a joke to plan a university, but we did it in 100 days," he claimed.

Chaudhry also revealed that the information ministry had decided to merge Radio Pakistan and PTV under a single body. Associated Press of Pakistan will be converted into a "digital service" so it can compete with international news agencies like Reuters, the information minister revealed.

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