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Public sector culture should change to adapt RIT Act: Eran

10 March 2015 05:05 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The organisational culture of the country’s public sector must change to accommodate the upcoming Right to Information (RTI) Act, according to Highways and Investment Promotion Deputy Minister Eran Wickramaratne, who was speaking at the ‘100 days and beyond’ event organised by EMG Spedition (Pvt.) Ltd for the benefit of the shipping and logistics community.
“January 8 gave us a new President but it didn’t give us a new way of thinking… I’ve had to tell government servants that we have been brought up in a country in which we were taught to conceal information, not to expose information, to restrict information not to give information. This change is a complete reversal of that,” he said.
Wickramaratne asserted that it was the duty of the public servants to protect the citizens of the country and not the government. As an example, he said that one of the researchers attached to the recent parliamentary proceedings on creating new regulations for the Employees’ Provident Fund was sandbagged and in turn interrogated over the phone by the department, which was supposed to provide information. “All those questions are unnecessary. It is a fund of the working people of this country. After 2011, the government hasn’t provided an audited statement of the Employee’s Provident Fund. Can you imagine how that is possible, when the funds don’t even belong to the government?” He expressed disappointment as the biggest fund in the country has not been accounted for, while private companies, which are minute in comparison, provide annual reports and interim statements.
“This culture must change. The politicians won’t change it for you. If you want this culture to change, we all have to take responsibility and we all have to work together. Otherwise it’s very easy for things to slip back to the old ways. That is why we will bring the Right to Information Act.”
He said that Sri Lanka is the only country in South Asia which does not have such provisions for the public.
Meanwhile, he said that the new regime has been letting go of all public servants who were recruited during the past presidential election. “They have been all recruited during the election period into government institutions by the 100s and 100s into each institution, adding thousands of new employees to the public sector, completely disregarding the election laws of the country.” He said that the move is one of good governance, taken according to the complaints made by the Elections Commissioner. (CW)
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