The National Information Commission has issued an 11-point directive to the newly-elected mayors/ chairpersons of all local levels regarding compliance with the Right to Information Act, 2007, and financial transparency.
As per the directives, the local bodies will have to draft their respective laws without keeping citizens in the dark regarding matters allowed to be kept confidential in line with the act. Section 3 of the act states that public bodies will be authorised to withhold such information that jeopardises sovereignty, integrity, national security, public peace, stability, and international relations of Nepal that directly affect investigation, inquiry and prosecution of crimes; which can seriously impact protection of economic, trade or monetary interest or intellectual property or banking or trade privacy, which jeopardises the harmonious relationship subsisting among various castes or communities.
The local levels also need to be told to hold open discussion and receive feedback from the general public while formulating laws, policies, budget and programme to ensure their participation. “The local levels are urged to disclose information about their decisions through website, notice board and local media.
In addition,” it will be their duty to disclose the statement of income and expenditure of local levels on a monthly basis,” states a press release issued by the NIC.
As per the directive, the local levels will also have to make provisions for public dissemination of progress report of the approved budget and programme, disclose information related to remuneration and facilities provided to elected representatives and employees, and submit their property details to the bodies concerned within the stipulated time. Similarly, the local levels have been directed to make pro-active disclosure of information about their activities on a quarterly basis in line with the existing provisions, in addition of designating an information officer compulsorily.
According to the NIC, many local levels have yet to designate information officer at their office for dissemination of information of public concern to the citizens and media.