39 NGOs announce info disclosure policy | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 22, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 22, 2012

39 NGOs announce info disclosure policy

Information Commissioner Prof Dr Sadeka Halim speaks at a workshop in the capital yesterday on RTI and proactive disclosure organised by Management and Resources Development Initiative (MRDI). On her right are AP Bureau Chief Farid Hossain and Chief of Party of USAID PROGATI Dennis Gallagher and on her left are MRDI Executive Director Hasibur Rahman and Manusher Jonno Foundation Programme Coordinator Sanjida Sobhan. Photo: MRDI

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Thirty nine non-government organisations (NGO) yesterday announced to have voluntarily formulated their respective information disclosure policy in line with the Right to Information (RTI) Act to make more information available to the public.
Of these NGOs, which monitor service delivery of the government agencies at local level across the country, 30 have already given approval to their policies.
The announcement came at a workshop in the capital's Brac Centre Inn, moderated by Farid Hossain, bureau chief of Associated Press.
Management and Resources Development Initiative (MRDI), supported by USAID Bangladesh's Promoting Governance, Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (Progati) Program, was the organiser.
Thanking the Information Commission, MRDI, Transparency International Bangladesh and other organisations, USAID Progati Chief of Party Dennis Gallagher said, “If it (the act) can not get outside of Dhaka, it is not going to be very effective.”
He said the focus on proactive disclosure is really important for both the government and non-governmental agencies because it creates openness. “In the long term what this is all about is it is trying to create a more open society.”
Gallagher said organisations can accomplish their objectives better if they are more open in their communication and the civil society organisations have a vital role to play in this process.
“You (NGOs) have adopted your own policies on proactive disclosure. Unless you demonstrate the potential of proactive disclosures then you can not really play an effective role in encouraging the government and other institutions to play this role,” he said.
Information Commissioner Prof Sadeka Halim said the country is yet to reach the stage where people can easily get information.
She said there should be a standardised information disclosure policy, irrespective of the nature of the NGO. “It will not do if one NGO says it will provide all of its information while another puts a bar on selective information.”
The social scientist also said there should be a strong political commitment to make the RTI Act a success. “The NGOs and the government agencies will have to work together to make it effective.”
Sadeka said they have transpired that NGOs also work with a bureaucratic mindset. “They will have to come out of this.”
The Dhaka University professor also said the NGOs should look into ways on how they can disclose information on their assets and liabilities.
While presenting the keynote, Sanjida Sobhan, a programme coordinator of Manusher Jonno Foundation, said the designated information officer of an organisation should be trained to provide information willingly.
MRDI Executive Director Hasibur Rahman said they provided the technical assistance in the formulation of the policies to ensure transparency to the widest possible audience.
He said a maximum disclosure of information by the NGOs can build informed citizens and ensure their participation in the development process.
The policies placed the organisations in a very comfortable position to respond to demands for information, he added.
Chief executives, executive board members and designated officers of the 39 NGOs shared their experiences at the workshop.

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