The private players in the government’s public private partnership (PPP) programmes may soon have to furnish information under the Right to Information Act.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Planning Commission to make a suitable RTI clause in agreements being signed with the private partners under the government's PPP schemes.
“We feel, once such conditions are built into the PPP agreements and the private parties willingly subject themselves to these conditions, a lot of confusion in this regard will go and the citizens will have the access to vital information regarding projects which affect their lives,” said Chief Information Commissioner Satyendra Mishra, in a letter to Planning Commission deputy chairperson M S Ahluwalia.
The RTI Act provides that private parties, which are substantially financed by the government will have to appoint public authorities to provide information to citizens under the law.
However, the private parties have been reluctant claiming that they are not covered under the RTI law even through they have received land or funds from the government. The CIC to its astonishment has found that even the ministries have not been willing to provide information regarding the PPP projects claiming that the private bodies were outside the government control.
To end the confusion, the CIC has suggested that every PPP project including draft agreement should be published for inviting public comments and objections before finalizing them. The CIC had suggested two options to implement the RTI law for PPP projects.
The PPP agreement should include a necessary condition that the Special Purpose Vehicle or any other entity which comes into being as a result of the PPP would be a public authority within the meaning of section 2 (h) of the RTI Act.
Second, the Central Public Information Officer of the ministry or department undertaking a PPP project will be equally responsible for providing the information sought.
The move, the CIC believes, will improve the accountability of such entities to both the government and public at large.