The Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2013 is a positive step towards a transparent, efficient and publically acceptable governance system in Punjab, said Engr Suhail Bin Rashid, the president of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

He was chairing meeting organised by a private university on ‘The role of civil society in making government system transparent. He said that it was a general practice that budgets were formulated without consultation with the stakeholders. When budget is announced, he added, the people started making hue and cry and then issues were re-examined and discussed.

However, for the first time, the government has been consulting all stakeholders in budget formulation. He hoped that this time budget will be better and reflective of the aspirations of the people as well as the business community.

He said that such meetings were positive step in bringing transparency in the government departments as taxpayers have the right to know where their money was being spent. He demanded that entire government system should be computerised and replaced with e-governance system as it was impossible for any government to have direct access to the each and every person.

He said that Punjab Board of Information Technology was already working on the pattern and record of some of the government departments had also been computerised that was available on their website.

Zafar Dogar, a journalist, expressed its apprehension over the exemptions provided in the Act, and said that in general practice these exemptions were being allowed to nullify the benefits of such important law.

Zaeem Yaqoob Khan, Director of the university, said that it had already conduced three Baithaks in Lahore for the sensitization of civil society in addition to bringing positive improvement in this Act.

Mr Wajahat Masud, a journalist, defended the Act, and said that it is a right step in the right direction. Some participants proposed that appointment in the commission should be made by independent body and all the system should be run electronically instead of creating another bureaucracy within the bureaucracy. Earlier, a brief presentation was also given on the role and scope of Punjab Transparency and Right to Information Act along with its salient features.