NEED FOR PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICERS

The Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) has expressed concern over government ministries, departments and agencies which fail to create communications units.

This according to the ministry, has denied the public access to public information in the respective departments, yet it is their mandatory right.

The government communications strategy passed in 2013 by Cabinet among others requires ministries, local governments and agencies to create communication units managed by professional communications personnel.

The Government departments are also expected to commit 8% of their respective budgets to support effective information dissemination, but many are reportedly yet to respond

Moses Watasa, the commissioner in charge of information dissemination, monitoring and inspections in the ministry, said 58% of them have created the units, faulting the 42% that have failed hence frustrating  the Government’s will to enable citizens access to public information.

Watasa remarked following concerns raised on information flow gaps on social services raised during a national dialogue on social accountability organised by World Vision in partnership with the Ministry of Health with support from Korean International Co-operation Agency (KOICA) at Hotel Africana in Kampala recently.

The dialogue was structured under the theme: “Scaling up social accountability for improved reproductive maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.”

He said most agencies have adhered to the strategy, but the most problem was with the districts.

Watasa said the accounting officers of these departments have instead delegated the role of these units to people without communication knowledge and skills in addition to the burdens of their professional work.

“These people have instead acted as obstacles to information flow, denying journalists interviews, disrespected journalistic deadlines and failed to explain government programmes on radios, televisions and social media,” he said.

He warned that the accounting officers who have failed to fully implement the communications strategy as it would, should be reprimanded through denying them new contracts and promotion

“As government, we have to be accountable at all levels and we need to move with the people,” he said.

Watasa, however, disclosed that the Government has improved in its communication strategies to the public because of information flow through radios and television programmes. Many different districts were increasingly demanding social accountability.