Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL) is concerned over the state’s lack of progress in implementing the Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan, which consists of 116 milestones. These milestones lay out a bold policy and service delivery framework for the government, covering themes ranging from Health & Education to the Right to Information Act, with responsible state agencies and deadlines for each.
Information gathered from the OGP tracker on www.tisrilanka.org/ogp, an initiative undertaken by TISL together with the coalition of civil society organisations monitoring the implementation of the National Action Plan, reveals that of the 89 milestones which have commenced, the deadlines for achieving 32 milestones have lapsed, 25 are stalled and 15 are in progress while only 17 milestones have been completed as of May 31, 2017.
Of the 17 completed milestones, 8 fall under the commitment to enact and implement the Right to Information Act, while little or no progress has been made on other commitments falling under the themes of Health, Education, Information & Communication Technology, Environment, Local Government, Women and Corruption.
Speaking on the non-implementation of the National Action Plan, TISL’s Executive Director Asoka Obeysekere said “we are glad to see the progress in RTI implementation, however this highlights that progress is very concentrated and the vast majority of themes lack bona fide commitment and leadership. The government should take steps to address these shortcomings ahead of the first independent review of OGP commitments which commences in September 2017”.
The OGP tracker also reveals that no progress at all has been made on key commitments under the themes of Health and Education, dealing with pressing issues facing the public including combating Chronic Kidney Disease and ensuring transparency and impartiality in the process of teacher recruitment. Similarly, only very limited procedural milestones have been completed under the theme of Environment, which is pertinent in light of the structural weaknesses recently exposed in environment protection and disaster management.
TISL fears that in the absence of the political will to implement the National Action Plan, Sri Lanka will lose an opportunity for meaningful engagement with the Open Government Partnership, which would adversely impact both public service delivery and consultative policy making processes.
Obeysekere added “Yahapalanaya and the OGP commitments go hand in hand. Implementation of the National Action Plan, through achieving its 116 milestones, is instrumental for the government to fulfill its good governance mandate – it provides a similar format to the 100 day program for the public to track delivery. At present the government does not even pay it lip service in public”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the main agency overseeing the implementation of the OGP National Action Plan. TISL calls on the newly appointed Minister & State Minister of Foreign Affairs to treat OGP delivery as a matter of priority.
What is OGP?
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national and sub-national governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.
In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a Steering Committee including representatives of governments and civil society organizations.
OGP was formally launched on September 20, 2011 on the sidelines of a UN General Assembly meeting during which Heads of State from 8 founding governments (Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States) endorsed the Open Government Declaration and announced their country action plans along with an equal number of civil society leaders.
The eight founding members also welcomed the commitment of 38 governments to join OGP.
Since its creation, OGP has resulted in over 2,500 commitments made by 75 participating countries, covering a third of the world’s population.
Sri Lanka became a signatory to the Open Government Declaration and joined the OGP in October 2015 becoming the only OGP member nation from the South Asian region.