x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Quicker data promised to FNC

Minister of State for FNC Affairs tells council to go through him when they can't properly obtain information.

FNC member Marwan bin Ghalita, of Dubai, thinks the unanswered requests for information show disrespect to the council.
FNC member Marwan bin Ghalita, of Dubai, thinks the unanswered requests for information show disrespect to the council.

ABU DHABI // The FNC has been assured of faster, more complete information after it reconvenes in October.

Tariq Lootah, under secretary at the Ministry of FNC Affairs, and the council's general secretariat recently signed an agreement to improve cooperation on access to data.

It means any government body that fails to meet requests for information from the FNC will be referred to the Minister of State for FNC Affairs, Dr Anwar Gargash, who will seek a quick response.

The agreement is a new commitment to the process, which was in place before last September's FNC election. It followed a complaint last month to Dr Gargash that members had struggled to obtain information from ministries and other government bodies.

They said they were forced to rely on information in the media for areas including cancer, debt and road deaths, and that ministers later criticised them for using inaccurate information.

Dr Gargash told members to inform him each time they ran into such problems.

"I understand your worry because a lot of discussions of the committees depends on getting data in time," he said. "If they are late it affects the work of the committees.

"In this respect, I agree with [members] completely. The data needs to come on time, full and in detail."

Dr Gargash said such delays had caused problems for previous councils and that it had earlier been decided the FNC general secretariat would discuss any such problems with the bodies concerned.

But he said that left the Ministry of FNC Affairs out of the loop.

"Currently, we do not know of any late documents because communication is between the general secretariat and government bodies," Dr Gargash said. "Unless we are told we do not know."

However, Marwan bin Ghalita, a member from Dubai, said the system should not be necessary and was a sign of disrespect for the FNC.

"Is there data that is private from the council members?" Mr bin Ghalita asked. "Do we … have to search in media and online to get this data?

"We are not asking for top-secret information. Why does every letter from us have to have the Ministry of FNC Affairs cc-ed in?"

He said it was the council's right for the general secretariat to be able to speak to government bodies.

"[The Prime Minister] Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid has called for transparency," Mr bin Ghalita said.

Hamad Al Rahoumi (Dubai) said the problem was frustrating.

"Right now, 80 per cent of information we ask for we do not get," Mr Al Rahoumi said. "The minister comes and says the numbers are not precise. That means they have them, and we have asked for them so why didn't we get them?"

Dr Gargash said he was shocked by the 80 per cent figure.

"I did not think it was this high," he said. "We ask for the old mechanism to be activated again."