September 19, 2021, 4:38 pm

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Private organization lags behind in disclosing information: TIB research

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Dhaka :

According to the right to information, the non-government organizations are lagging behind the government organizations in disclosing information to the citizens on their own initiative. The position of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in particular is worrisome. This picture has emerged in the research report of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).

The report, titled ‘Evaluation of Self-Motivated Information Disclosure Practices’, was released at a press conference held on the virtual platform on Thursday. It said the government’s Ministry of Food, Water Resources and Textiles and Jute is at the forefront of self-motivated disclosure. Despite the legal obligations, the culture of privacy in disclosing and providing information related to human rights violations and corruption continues.

TIB executive director at a press conference. Iftekharuzzaman said that just as government and non-government organizations had a role in enacting the Right to Information Act, so did their proper implementation. Eleven years after the enactment of the law, the chances of getting information have increased, but overall it is not satisfactory. Although the issue of self-motivated disclosure and dissemination of information is of legal importance, there are shortcomings in its practice and application.

According to the report, the research survey collected data and samples from the websites of 153 government organizations, 39 NGOs and a total of 192 organizations. As per this, the survey was conducted on 76 percent government institutions and 24 percent NGOs. The study was conducted in a mixed manner by collecting data from the websites of 192 organizations from August 2020 to January 2021. The organizations involved in the study were scored based on the information published on their websites. The practice of self-motivated disclosure of information by government and non-government organizations under the Right to Information Act has been evaluated on the basis of a total of 25 indicators (19 in scope of information, four in accessibility and two in utility) included in the three prescribed cases.

The study also found that the level of disclosure of institutional and service information was satisfactory on the websites of most government agencies (54.9% and 59.4%, respectively). The scores of most government agencies (45.8%) are inadequate in disclosing management related information and the scores of most government agencies (54.2%) in disclosing information on activities and decision making are worrisome. On the other hand, most NGOs (more than 80%) have the lowest level of disclosure of all types of information depending on the type of indicator on the website and most NGOs have the lowest score for all but one instruction.

According to the report, about 37 per cent of government agencies have achieved satisfactory scores in self-motivated disclosure of information. The score of about 8.5 percent government institutions is worrying. According to the observation, the Ministry of Food, the Ministry of Water Resources and the Ministry of Textiles and Jute are jointly in the first place with an overall score of 42 (84 percent). The Ministry of Women and Children Affairs is in the second place and the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh Bridge Department, Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Education-Madrasa Board, Ministry of Industries and Ministry of Social Welfare are in the third place jointly. The Inter-Army Election Board got the lowest score (4 percent) among the government institutions.

On the other hand, no NGO is in the top 10, even though no NGO got a satisfactory score by the research criteria. On the contrary, the score of 94.9 percent NGOs in self-motivated disclosure is worrying. Among the NGOs, 19 organizations are in the top 10 positions, with scores ranging from 8 to 22. With the highest score of 22 (44 percent), the national level NGO Coastal Association for Social Transformation is in the first place, Dhaka Ahsania Mission is in the second place and Mass Development Center is in the third place. Six of the top 10 locations are international NGOs and the rest of the websites on the list are national level NGOs.

The report further states that the officials in charge of the Right to Information Act are often not fully aware of it. As a result, there is a complication in providing information in terms of self-motivated information disclosure, promotion and application. Despite the legal obligations, the culture of confidentiality in disclosing and providing information related to human rights violations and corruption continues. In many cases, the officer in charge does not get a chance to take steps to ensure the quality of the website or think about it as he has more responsibilities in his own position.

TIB executive director at a press conference. Iftekharuzzaman said the expectation was that the private sector or NGOs would do much better. But unfortunately that did not happen. The score of a non-governmental organization is not satisfactory, on the contrary, the situation of about 95% of NGOs is worrying; Which is frustrating. In the case of international NGOs, there is no information according to the information rules. Since the non-governmental organizations are involved in the right to information movement and they work with the government to implement it, their practice of publishing and disseminating self-motivated information needs to be further enhanced. He added that while disclosure of information and ensuring accessibility of information is one of the strategies to control corruption, it is not enough to prevent corruption. This requires political will, ensuring effective accountability of those involved in corruption, and people’s participation and institutional capacity.

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