Every non-government organisation (NGO) and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) project should come under purview of the Right To Information Act, a panel appointed by Prime Manmohan Singh has said.
A high-level panel on public health has told the government that RTI should be made mandatory for all NGOs and public private partnerships working in the social sector such as health to improve transparency and accountability.
The definition of the partnership involves hospitals built by a private entity but a land for which was given at a highly subsidised rate by the government. There are several such hospitals across India, which falls under this category, but they refuse to abide by the transparency law.
Transparency watchdog, the Central Information Commission (CIC), has said any project where the government provides land at a subsidised rate or provide annual financial assistance of Rs one crore or more should come under the ambit of RTI.
Planning commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia had refused to bring all PPP projects under RTI saying the CIC will have to decide on individual projects.
K Srinath Reddy, who headed the PM-appointed panel, said transparency was a must to ensure accountability of PPP institutions working for national building and providing basic amenities to people.
“Many of these institutions were set up with the government’s help. We have asked the government to ensure that they come abide by RTI,” he said.
The Public Health Foundation of India, which Reddy heads, was one such PPP institution started in 2006 with Belinda and Bill Gates Foundation. It had been voluntarily providing information to citizens but from this March it will appoint a Public Information Officer (PIO) to meet the requirements of RTI on the directives of the CIC. To be first public private body to come under RTI, Reddy said they have decided to abide by the CIC decision and will not appeal against it. Reddy’s panel wants PPP under the RTI as number of schemes to provide universal access to public health to all with the help of private entities