The RTI Ministerial Order was signed by the then Acting Prime Minister Bob Loughman on 9 October 2018 and the State Law Office has confirmed that the Order was gazetted on the 19th of the same month giving effect to the Ministerial Order.
The RTI Unit said the general public can now apply RTI law on fifty-two (52) Government ministries, departments and statutory bodies that are covered under the Second RTI Enforcement Order following the gazettal of the ministerial Order.
“This literally means from the date of the gazettal of the Order any member of the public at large can use provisions of the RTI Act to obtain information from any of the 52 agencies”
These agencies are addition to the seven that were covered in the First order of 2017.
The new agencies include all the government Ministries and departments except the Ministries of Public Utilities and Youth Development and Sports. Statutory bodies covered here are VNPF, URA,
National Archives, Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Vanuatu Agriculture Research Training Centre, Vanuatu, Finance Service Commission, Telecommunications, Radiocommunications Broadcasting Regulator (TRBR), Vanuatu Police Force, Electoral Commission and the Port Vila Municipality.
Mr Ezra said the government has been and is continuing to implement mechanisms to enable easy access to information and the recent gazettal of the Second RTI Order is yet another milestone to indicate the government’s commitment to human rights obligations, and for the sake of transparency and accountability.
Mr Ezra, who is also Acting Director of the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning and Aid Coordination (DSPPAC), said citizens should also find ways of making the best use of this legislation.
“A number of sensitive issues have been raised over social media, kava bars or elsewhere – many of which were based on rumours so it is now up to the public and media to use this RTI law to address deficiency/delay government in service delivery, seek evidence to expose abuse of power/authority, arbitrary decision making etc, if any, or to seek information that can be used for advocacy and other purposes,” he said.
“It is also an avenue to help people understand and appreciate government spending and get accurate answers to your questions”, he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Ezra is appealing to all agencies covered in the Second Ministerial Order to ensure they nominate a designated officer to perform the responsibilities of the RTI Officer and to start talking with the RTI Unit if they are still unsure of what to do next.
Photo supplied Caption: Chairman of RTI steering committee, John Ezra