New Delhi : Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Thursday said Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) projects should be covered under Right to Information (RTI) Act, but government involved in the projects should be asked to provide information under the law.
Ahluwalia was in favour of full disclosure by public authorities of all relevant aspects of PPPs and performance under them. “PPP should be covered under RTI Act, but government agency should reply to the information sought,” he said.
The deputy chairman argued that RTI Act could not apply to private companies as under the information law, only public authorities were covered. He was reacting to a question at the economic editors’ conference to a letter written by chief information commissioner Satyananda Mishra to him suggesting that conditions should be built into every PPP agreement requiring the respective concessionaire to provide information regarding their projects under RTI Act.
The CIC had written to the Planning Commission that all future contracts under PPP should be made public since public money was involved. At present, the Act does not refer to PPP contracts. Mishra had asked the Plan panel to consider a PPP entity to be deemed to be a public authority for the purpose of RTI Act.
A public authority under the RTI Act can include a non-governmental body only if it is substantially financed by the central government. Mishra used this argument to make his case saying that in all projects handed over to a PPP entity for building, operating or maintaining, the land, if not any other resource, given by the government formed a vital component of the project and to that extent, could be said to be substantial financing.