Speakers at a discussion here yesterday apprehended that the task of implementing Right to Information (RTI) law might face a major impediment if proper record management system is not developed.
They said the country's record keeping system is outdated and suggested formulating a fresh law to incorporate preservation of information into the RTI law to ensure proper record keeping in government offices and other institutions.
Supported by USAID and PROGATI, Mass-line Media Centre (MMC) organised the discussion on 'RTI law and citizens' right to know' at Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and Industries auditorium.
SM Shameem Reza, information policy specialist from Dhaka University, read out a keynote paper at the event where Rajshahi Deputy Commissioner Shefaul Karim was present as the chief guest.
Florlis Geraedts, historian and archivist of the Netherlands, Muhammad Lutful Haque, general secretary of Campaign for RTI, Prof Moshiur Rahman and Dr M Anisur Rahman of Rajshahi University, Sayeed Ahmed Kabir, Sarwar-e Kamal and Mustafijur Rahman Khan Alam also spoke.
MMC Executive Director Kamrul Hasan Manju moderated the discussion.
Florlis Geraedts, also a member of Bangladesh Achieves and Record Management, stressed the need for building a good record keeping system and said, "If institutions have no good record management system, they cannot give information properly."
Lutful said files of documents are preserved in different offices in a way which might be automatically destroyed. He demanded providing additional manpower and budget for record keeping sector.
"If keeping records are not made mandatory, the authorities will get chances of avoiding answering questions on plea of lack of information."
Citing an example, he said due to lack of any record preservation law, Rajshahi City Corporation destroyed its century-old documents several months ago.
Shameem said the RTI law would not reap any benefit unless it is properly implemented through creating awareness among mass people of their right of access to information.
The speakers said lack of political will, culture of secrecy and lack of knowledge about RTI among general public are the major obstacles to implementing the law.