A new Parliamentary Act will be soon introduced giving unrestricted power to the Public Relations and Public Affairs Ministry to entertain and investigate complaints against public officials and recommend redress or take legal action against those who ignore ministry directions, a senior official said.
Ministry Secretary C. Herath said yesterday a memo would be submitted for cabinet approval on June 6 by subject Minister Mervyn Silva calling for legal provisions for a ‘Public Request Act’ and to set up a special unit under the Ministry with legal authority to investigate and make rulings and recommendations on officials attached to ministries, departments, semi-government institutions and statutory boards with complaints being attended to within a specified time.
“We will give a maximum period of three months to public servants to take action on the recommendations or rulings. Under the existing administrative and legal provisions it is extremely difficult for a person to get redress for a discrimination or unjust act committed against him or her by a public official or an official of a semi government institution. The new unit will fill this gap,” Mr. Herath said.
He said this ‘Relief Provisions Mechanism’ is being set up on the directive of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The new Act is a result of the recommendations made by a five-member committee from the ministries of Public Relations and Home Affairs, Finance and Planning, Public Administration and Home Affairs, Local Government and Provincial Councils and Public Management Reforms.
The Unit which will act as a ‘Permanent Standing Committee’ will be empowered to summon any official including a Ministerial Secretary or a Statutory Board Chairman, visit any public or semi government institution and call for any document during investigations. The public officials will be entitled to obtain legal advice and send a representative on his or her behalf.
Mr. Herath said the improvement in the quality and productivity in the public and semi-government sector was another objective of setting up of this special unit as many state establishment set up to deal with efficiency and productivity in the public service such as the Public Service Commission the Human Rights Commission and the Bribery Commission had not brought the desired results. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)