Dilly-dallying by Federal Ombudsman and National Assembly Secretariat in sharing attendance record of parliamentarians deplored

Islamabad, April 08, 2013: It is mind-boggling as to how attendance record of the members of National Assembly (MNAs) be regarded as personal data? The attendance record of a MNA only tells whether or not he/she attended National Assembly proceedings.It does not invade privacy of an MNA as maintained by National Assembly Secretariat in response to information request filed by Advocate Saleem Iqbal on April 06, 2012 under Freedom of Information Ordinance 2002 seeking seek attendance record of MNAs during the parliamentary year 2010-11 and 2011-12. Centre for Peace and Development deplores the fact that Federal Ombudsman has not been able to decide this matter in complaint lodged on May 15, 2012, even after the lapse of more than 10 months. The parliamentarians draw salaries and benefit from other perks, privileges, travel and other allowances from public funds specifically to attend National Assembly proceedings. How can voters make informed choices if they do not know how many days a particular MNA attended National Assembly proceedings? Why is National Assembly Secretariat jealously guarding attendance record of parliamentarians? When such information is hidden from public view, it gives rise to rumours and negative perceptions about parliamentarians which is not good for democracy. Are there some parliamentarians who kept on claiming travel allowance which is not justified by the attendance record? Are there parliamentarians whose attendance record is abysmally low? Which are the parliamentarians who set high standards of participation in parliamentary proceedings? These and other questions can only be answered if the attendance record is made available in the public domain. Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, (CPDI) demands National Assembly Secretariat to put the attendance record of the parliamentarians on National Assembly web site. Furthermore, Federal Ombudsman is urged to decide matters of public importance in reasonable time limit.

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