Lebanon Businessnews News

Right to access information very soon
Legislation hoped to reduce corruption
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A law proposal granting citizens the right to access information available in public administrations was approved by Cabinet on Monday (October 8). The bill is being discussed by the Parliamentary committees.

MP Serge Torsarkissian, member of the subcommittee tasked with studying the proposal, said that once the law is approved, citizens “will have full access to all information concerning public administrations, except for confidential records kept in Cabinet and Parliament.”

Rabih Shaer, managing director of the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA) said the bill will likely be ratified within the coming two months. “Once the subcommittee approves it, the administration and justice committee will directly pass it to the Parliament’s general assembly.” LTA is part of the ‘National Network for the Right to Access Information’, a group of private and public sector activists who formulated the draft law.

Shaer said the draft comprises 28 articles. “The goal behind the law, as mentioned in its first article, is to promote transparency, accountability, and combat corruption,” he said. The draft requires all ministries to publish their budgets, reports, and the appointments made by the ministers.

Shaer said that administrations will also be bound to publish their planned projects, whether or not they have been implemented. The proposal calls for appointing an employee in every public authority, who would be in charge of helping citizens to get the information they require.

The data will either be posted on the website of each administration, or through a unified online portal for all public administrations. The information should be granted for free. If any authority refuses to disclose the requested information, citizens have the right to file an appeal to the Shura Council.

The bill also calls for publishing in the Official Gazette the motives that called for the adoption of a certain law. “This would allow citizens to understand why certain legislations are passed,” Torsarkissian said.

According to Shaer, certain information will not be publicized: “Matters related to national security, currency transactions made by the Central Bank, and information about other citizens will still be classified data.”
Reported by Yassmine Alieh
Date Posted: Oct 10, 2012
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