Prime Minister Charlot Salwai yesterday signed the Third and final Right to Information (RTI) Ministerial Order to enforce the RTI Law on other government agencies and private entities that were not included in the two initial RTI Orders.
The final Order means members of the public may obtain information from all the government agencies that were mentioned in all the Three RTI Orders.
Public offices and relevant private entities to which the RTI Act No. 13 of 2016 applies to are: Ministry of Public Utilities and all Departments under its portfolio; Ministry of Youth Development and Sports and all Departments under its portfolio; the Public Service Office; State Law Office, Parliament House; Offices under the Judiciary Sector and all financial institutions that are wholly owned or in part by the Government.
Agencies that come under the law also include Civil Aviation Department; Airports Vanuatu Limited; Air Vanuatu; Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation; Provincial Government Councils and Area Councils Secretaries.
The Act also covered public schools and private schools throughout Vanuatu that receive subsidies from the Government, all Government Statutory Boards and Commissions, any other Government Agency or a relevant private entity that relates to any funding provided to it by the Government.
Finally, any Government Agency whose functions are carried out by a relevant private entity whether funded in whole or in part by the Government or by another organisation such as the local Non-Government Organisations and International Non-Government Organisations.
In his official remark, Mr Salwai acknowledged that signing of the final Order in the Parliament is ideal because the Parliament is also applicable in this Third Order.
“RTI involves Good Governance. This means that once the Implementation Order is gazetted, the Parliament ought to be more transparent and Members of Parliament must work closely with the Parliament Secretariat to keep proper recording of how MPs are spending their MP Allocations,” he said.
Mr Salwai said it is important that people know how their MPs are spending their money and Parliament should be the role model of Good Leadership through the commitment of Good Governance.
The Head of Government who is also the minister responsible for Media acknowledged that a lot of effort has been put into this Act by various organisations, NGOs, and individuals to where it is today.
Mr Salwai stressed the adoption of the RTI law is telling the people that this government is an “Open Government” despite the few exceptions which are only to protect the national interests of this nation.
“RTI is about ‘Making People Informed’ or helping people acquire or obtain accurate information. A society where information flows smoothly is usually a lively society because it encourages live discussions all the time.”