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Does the Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Housing Facilities Employ all the Necessary Information Officers?

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The Right to Information Act is a law, which in theory is designed to provide answers to Sri Lankan citizens in the language requested by them (Sinhala, Tamil or English).

An similar experience has been encountered multiple times however, when the language in which the requestor prefers access is specified in the RTI form; rather than the language/languages stated in the form, both the ‘decision pending’ letter and the letter with the actual information in it have been received by the requestor in a language other than the one they stated the application form.

This has been known to occur when the language requested is Tamil or English. On more than one occasion, an applicant who requests that the answer from the government ministry or department be in English or Tamil, the reply arrives in Sinhala. This was the situation when the Ministry of Urban Development, Water Supply and Housing Facilities answered an RTI application regarding beggars in Colombo; their answer arrived in Sinhala. It is worth noting that the same happened when asking about the operation of street lights from the Colombo Municipal Council.

Is it not the responsibility of each public authority to ensure that they are able to supply information in the language stated by the information requester? If so, what difficulties are encountered by these public authorities in employing enough information officers and/or translators in order to be capable of handling information requests in all three languages?

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