On May 21, the third meeting of the Federal Council for Transparency in the city of Salta was held. For the first time, a space was opened for the participation of civil society organizations.
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The third meeting of the Federal Council for Transparency in the city of Salta was held. On May 21, representatives of the provincial governments attended the first session of 2019 of the body created by the national law on access to public information. In 2018, in Buenos Aires, the first two meetings were held and it was decided that for this year the host provinces should be changing. For the second half of the year it is expected that Tierra del Fuego will host the officials.
What is the Federal Council for Transparency? Article 29 of Law 27275 on access to public information establishes that it is an interjurisdictional body of a permanent nature, whose purpose will be technical cooperation and the conclusion of policies on transparency and access to public information.
After the law came into effect at the end of 2017, in the year 2018 the Council began to operate. As the text of the regulation makes explicit, it is an organization in which representatives of all the provinces participate, in order to coordinate policies of transparency and access to information. They meet twice a year, and for the first time, space was opened for civil society organizations to participate. The opening of this instance was thanks to the presentation of a letter, made by the Network of Organizations Against Corruption (of which Fundeps is a founding member) at the end of 2018.
During this third session, Fundeps, Poder Ciudadano and Salta Transparente, we were present on behalf of the ROCC to raise our concerns and perspectives on the situation of the right of access to information at the provincial level. We specifically proposed the creation of a national plan of action for the standardization of transparency principles throughout the national territory. In this regard, the possibility was raised of taking as a starting point, the national law of AIP. Likewise, we mentioned the need for the Council to function as a space that embraces the cause of public ethics, and be able to establish specific guidelines on this subject and access to information (especially, as far as affidavits are concerned).
The session in Salta also aimed to review the mandate and status of the Council. According to Eduardo Bertoni (president of the Council and head of the Access to Public Information Agency), the review would include the incorporation of a space for CSOs permanently in meetings. Also, he assured that the standardization of transparency principles throughout the country is the raison d’être of this organization.
The meeting also had the presence of the World Bank, an institution that has been in charge of gathering data about the status of the regulations on access to public information in the provinces. The advances and results were presented and will be available in the coming days. This study was only of legislative analysis, without deepening the questions of implementation of laws in each province. In general terms, what is thrown by the evaluation accounts for a very different picture of what access to information refers to. While there are provinces with advanced regulations in this matter, others (among which Córdoba could be included), have laws that date back many years and that restrict more than guarantee the right to dispose of the data and information in the hands of the State.
As members of civil society, we applaud the initiative and appreciate the space granted. We hope that for the next meetings, a greater number of representatives of the provinces will attend. Unfortunately, this meeting only had the presence of 7 provinces and particularly, Córdoba was not present. It is fundamental that, in order to achieve a true synergy between the State and the citizenship, each provincial representative should be present in this space. Otherwise, it is not possible to advance in the guarantee of the right of access to information in a comprehensive and complete manner in Argentina.
Agustina Palencia – [email protected]