The National Assembly (NA)’s telephone hotline has allowed the public to raise concerns, including the misconduct of government officials, which reaches high level leaders and concerned sectors.
However, the mechanisms to address these concerns were not effective enough with some top administrators declining to respond to public questions.
An official from the National Assembly’s Department of Justice Inspection Mr. Khampasong Rasachak made the remarks in his introduction on the role of the NA’s hotline services at a seminar held on Tuesday in Vientiane to share national, regional and international experience on corruption complaints.
“An important advantage of the NA’s hotline is that information on misconduct of government officials and various public concerns rapidly reaches the higher leaders,” Mr. Khampasong said.
The National Assembly began the telephone hotline in the Fifth Legislature, with informants able to submit their opinions and complaints using the free hotline number 156, fax 021 452627, posting to PO Box 662 or emailing an_session@ na.gov.la.
According to Mr. Khampasong, more than 1,200 hotline calls and messages were sent to the NA during the July 2013 session. Many of the calls focused on the same issues such as the slowness of road construction, environmental and social impacts cause by development projects, and government policies among others. He said the calls and complaints were summarised before being delivered to NA members, concerned sectors, high level leaders, and the media for response.
He revealed that 80 percent of public complaints raised through the NA’s telephone hotline provided factual information on corruption activities, while the rest failed to give an accurate account or were exaggerated and defamed the government.
Maladministration by government officials had been minimised since the existence of the NA hotline, which had also addressed issues quickly, according to Mr. Khampasong.
“Directly or indirectly, the hotline has forced or motivated officials to improve their behaviour in implementing their obligation of public services,” the official from the NA’s department said.
Meanwhile, he noted some deficiencies around the hotline responses, especially mechanisms for addressing public concerns, which he said weren’t effective enough.
“A minister declined to respond directly to some questions, but appointed a junior technical official to respond instead,” Mr. Khampasong explained, adding that the lower ranking official offered a response but did not give a satisfactory answer.
He also revealed the NA planned to extend the hotline term, which is currently opened only during NA sessions, to serve callers all year-round so they can provide information on misconduct and their concerns are addressed in a timely manner.
“The NA ordinary session takes place twice a year and informants could not raise concerns as the NA hotline was off when the session was closed,” the official from the NA said.
Source: Vientiane Times