‘We will begin to gazette public authorities on the 3rd of February 2017,’ says Gayantha Karunathilaka, Minister for Mass Media. ‘After this, citizens can begin to exercise their right to information.’ Mr Karunathilaka said this at a press briefing, alongside Deputy Minister for Mass Media, Mr. Karunarathne Paranavithana, and Director of the Information Department, Mr. Ranga Kalansooriya.
‘Citizens will receive the right to request information they need from any public authority. There are some conditions under which they may not be able to receive information, such as in cases where defense could be compromised, or personal medical records,’ concluded the minister.
Mr Paranavithana added that it will be only high-level appointments of Information Officers that will be complete by the 4th of February. ‘We will begin on February 4th. It won’t be possible to cover absolutely all public authorities but Information Officers will be appointed and the processes will begin. If everyone works properly, then we can cover all areas within another six or seven months.’
The deputy minister explained why it would not be possible to do all grassroots-level appointments by the 4th. ‘Take the postal department for example – there are so many postal offices, we can’t appoint information officers at each and every one of them yet. Even at schools, we can’t appoint information officers at every primary school. It would be good to do so and it is something we should do for the future but at the beginning we are appointing at the major public authorities only.’
‘Currently, at every major public authority, we have identified Information Officers and they will be appointed,’ he continued.
Mr Kalansooriya reiterated that these grassroots-level appointments must eventually be made and that it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Mass Media to ensure it happens, as stated explicitly in the Act