Govt officials creating hurdles for OCAI: Afzali
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Oversight Commission on Access to Information (OCAI) chief on Wednesday complained government officials instead of extending their cooperation were creating problems for the commission.
Sayed Ikram Afzali wrote on his Facebook wall that he had approached President Ghani, CEO Abdullah, the Office of Administrative Affairs, the Council of Ministers and others since his election as OCAI chief six months ago to seek preliminary resources for running the commission’s affairs.
In this regard, Azali wrote he also held direct meetings with the minister of information and culture and his deputies and made them telephonic calls and sent letters but failed to elicit sufficient support.
He said his efforts lasting six months did not bear fruits and instead hurdles were created for the commission under various pretexts.
“I witnessed with my own eyes inefficiency of high ranking government officials and their negligence.”
Afzali said the government was yet to consider budget for the commission and the implementation of the access to information law.
He questioned how the unity government could claim it was committed to transparency when it was refusing to arrange basic resources for a commission having a centric role in ensuring transparency and accountability.
“In my presence at the Cabinet, CEO Abdullah directed the finance and the information and culture ministries to arrange budget and other resources for the commission, but two months on, nothing is done,” Afzali said.
He said he had sent letters to the two ministries, but there had been no response. “The information and culture minister has sent us a letter saying we should no longer contact any department and he himself will speak on behalf of the commission.”
Afzali said it seemed the minister had written the letter in compliance with directives from the Office of Administrative Affairs. He said now the minister of information and culture would sign letters being to departments by the commission, something in sheer violation of the law on access to information.
He said they had been running the commission’s affairs with their own resources in the absence of government budget and their task of overseeing departments with regard to providing access to information was directly interfered with.
But the Ministry of Information and Culture rejected his claims, saying the ministry had always cooperated with the commission.
Information and Culture Ministry spokesman Haroon Hakimi told Pajhwok Afghan News that Minister Abdul Bari Jehani, deputy broadcasting minister Mujgan Mustafawi and deputy administration minister Zardasht Shams had always held meetings with members of the commission and had listened to their recommendations.
He said the commission had been provided a building and letters had been to the Office of Administrative Affairs about budget for the commission.
He said a joint meeting of the information and the finance ministries would take place next week to resolve the commission’s financial problems. He said until the budget was not approved, other financial problems would remain.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.