‘RTS initiative a leap forward in enhancing service delivery’

RTS Act encompasses a wide array of services ranging from legal document issuance to utility provision, says official.

Sami Khisrow

The Right to Service (RTS) initiative in Pakistan, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, represents a significant leap towards enhancing governance by ensuring efficient and transparent delivery of public services, says Sajid Anwar, an official of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Right to Public Services Commission.

Speaking at a session on the Youth Leadership Program organized by Centre for Governance and Public Accountability (CGPA), Anwar underscored RTS’s pivotal role in holding government officials accountable and streamlining bureaucratic processes, thereby expediting citizens’ access to essential services.

Enacted in 2014, the RTS Act encompasses a wide array of services ranging from legal document issuance to utility provision, guaranteeing prompt assistance to citizens without undue delays. The RTS mechanism operates on a simple yet effective principle: citizens apply for a service listed under the RTS and receive an acknowledgment receipt with a specified due date for service delivery.

The respective department is then obligated to furnish the service by the stipulated date. In cases of non-compliance, citizens retain the right to lodge complaints with the RTS Commission, an autonomous body entrusted with overseeing the act’s implementation, investigating grievances, and imposing penalties on errant officials to ensure adherence to the law.

Accessibility to RTS services in KP is facilitated through various channels, including designated government offices, the official RTS portal for online applications and dedicated mobile applications tailored for RTS services. This multipronged approach ensures inclusivity, making RTS accessible to citizens across diverse locations and technological backgrounds.

Highlighting the transformative impact of RTS, Mr Anwar emphasized the substantial reduction in service delivery timelines from months to days. Notably, the processing of vital legal documents such as domiciles, previously marred by protracted delays, is now expedited within a fixed 10-day timeframe, epitomizing a paradigm shift towards honoring citizens’ right to timely services.

Moreover, the RTS Act has instilled a culture of accountability among public officials, with monitoring officers vigilantly overseeing service delivery and addressing lapses promptly.

Despite its commendable strides, the RTS initiative encounters several challenges that impede its efficacy. Bureaucratic inertia persists in certain quarters, hindering the seamless implementation of the legal framework and resulting in operational inefficiencies.

Furthermore, the digital divide poses a formidable obstacle, as unequal access to digital resources undermines citizens’ ability to avail RTS services, particularly in regions with limited internet connectivity. Addressing these challenges necessitates robust public awareness campaigns to educate citizens about their entitlements under the RTS and streamline the RTS Commission’s capacity to handle complaints efficiently.

While the RTS Act in KP represents a monumental advancement in public service delivery, addressing its inherent drawbacks is imperative to unlock its full potential. By bridging the digital divide, bolstering public awareness and enhancing the RTS commission’s efficacy, the Act can truly embody the vision of making public services a fundamental right for every citizen in the province.

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