List of services missing from Right to Services law

PESHAWAR: On paper, the soon-to-be-enacted Right to Public Services law is bound to improve the quality of governance in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). But experts and officials of the provincial law department said the present draft needs to incorporate the names of specific public services that will be covered under the law.

Drafted in October last year, and reportedly set to be presented to the provincial assembly soon, the law will ensure that citizens, the end consumers of public services, will get the best in terms of governance.

An official said the law will enable citizens to hold government officials accountable in terms of service delivery and help promote a system of positive checks and balances. Concerned government officials will be liable to be fined by the three-member “rights to public services commission” which will work as an appellate forum where citizens will be able to lodge complaints.

“The draft does not provide a list of public services that will be covered under the law as that is to be decided by the government later,” said another official, adding there is a strong need to add the list of services now, rather than later. “It should be done before the law is enacted as later the issue may create controversy,” he said.

Muhammad Zahoor Khan, Executive Director of the Centre for Governance and Public Accountability, an NGO, termed the proposed law a welcome step. He said access to public services through a one-window operation and e-portal will streamline governance in the province.

However, Khan stressed the need to define which services the law will cover, suggesting that education, municipal services and tasks assigned to local government entities should be included.

He said citizens face the most difficulties in public services such as registration of birth and death certificates, issuance of driving licences, payment of utility bills, issuance of identity cards, NOCs for construction sites, registration of FIRs, issuance of domicile certificate and issuance of passport and tax registration.

He said at present, the reform agenda of the government, with the already enacted Right to Information Law and the anticipated Right to Services law, will bring much-needed social service delivery. “The K-P government should also enact a right to education law as per the spirit of Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan,” he added.