Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) calls on the Government to urgently work toward the adoption of the Right to Information (RTI) and Audit Bill, which has been approved by the Cabinet, before the Parliament is dissolved.
TISL welcomes the decision made by the government not to pass these Bills as urgent bills as decided initially, giving way to the concerns expressed by a number of stakeholders. However, we urge the government not to postpone the Bills any longer, as they are crucial to the strengthening of democracy and governance in Sri Lanka.
The proposed RTI law is aimed at granting every citizen “a right of access to official information which is in the possession, custody or control of a public authority”. TISL also wishes to commend the government for allowing civil society members and the general public to make available their feedback to further strengthen the contents of the Bill. Although most of the issues in the RTI Bill have been addressed through public consultation, TISL is of the view that there is room for further improvement which can be addressed at a later stage.
The RTI Bill is arguably the most important piece of legislation in the reform process and approval of the Bill will be an important step in the right direction to eradicate corruption and malpractices. Hence, we urge the government to take this as a priority prior to dissolution of parliament or to make these legislation the very first legislation in the new parliament.
The Bill to introduce more powers to the Auditor General too is a very important piece of legislation at this juncture and we appeal to the Members of Parliament to debate and enact this Bill, which will reaffirm the rule of law in the country.