Freedom of Information Act vs ICTA Annual Reports
The Weekly magazine in its 167th edition, published the interview of Ashok Radhakissoon. The latter being the former chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Corporation (IBA) and the Information & Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) shed some light on issues relating to the right of information in Mauritius.
I would strongly recommend reading his interview.
To a question by Touria Prayag regarding the presence of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Technology, Communication & Innovation as chairman of the IBA, Ashok replied:
Ashok is also quoted as saying:
There is a risk that even with a well-made Freedom of Information Act, there is no access to information.
Whenever information from government agencies is sought, it's like a battle. A few days ago, S. Moonesamy contacted the Director of Marketing & Communications of the ICT Authority requesting the Annual Report of ICTA for the year 2014. The answer received is as follows:
Please be informed that the Annual Reports 12-13-14 have all been sent to the relevant institutions as per the statutory obligations.
Copies for the wider community will be communicated in due course.
I should take it that the annual reports of the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 are not available to public and there isn't much assurance from the Director of Marketing & Communications as to when these will be available. Why such reluctance?
A few weeks ago, lexpress.mu reported that the Director of the ICT Authority, Dr Krishna Oolun, who is currently suspended, was arrested then freed on conditional bail. The enquiry led by the Central Criminal Investigation Department (CCID) revolves around expenses in millions of taxpayers money by the ICT Authority.
Doesn't the taxpayer have the right to read those annual reports (2012/13/14) that could shed light on the expenses of the ICT Authority? Well, as long as we'll have government officers who shall play hide-and-seek with documents, concerned citizens will have to be pertinent with their demands.
On this note, I share the same concern as Ashok, will a Freedom of Information Act really help citizens in getting access to information?