Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Freedom of Information Act inevitable but in time-- Prime Minister Hinds

Freedom of Information Act inevitable but in time-- Prime Minister Hinds
By Tajeram Mohabir
Guyana Chronicle news item. Tuesday 3 June 2008

PRIME Minister Samuel Hinds yesterday assured that a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is inevitable in Guyana.

But it is a matter of time and preparations in getting there, he said, after a Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) press briefing in its Brickdam, Georgetown library.

Mr. Hinds contended that Guyanese are currently enjoying about 80 to 90 per cent of what an FOIA delivers.

“We are making things available, a lot of information is available, so one, maybe, is also enjoying, in Guyana, what the act entails,” he told reporters.

The issue of the legislation was raised last week at the Guyana Parliament and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) sponsored workshop for local parliamentarians and media practitioners at Grand Coastal Inn, Le Ressouvenir, East Coast Demerara.

Hinds said, even though Government recognised the need for the law, at that forum there were presentations on the increased volume of work, recording, as well as storage and coverage of required information.

In addition, personal issues, which should not be included in the statute, were discussed and reference was made to England where, before the enactment, there were laws governing secrecy and confidentiality, he observed.

Asked if Alliance for Change (AFC) Co-Leader Raphael Trotman’s proposed bill, tabled in the National Assembly in 2006, would be passed should it resurface, Hinds reiterated that timing and sequencing is required, because issues of privacy and overriding will have to be taken into account.

He said that was done in England and Trinidad and Tobago to contain certain areas of personal interest and, in that case, where issues of significance, including sales of arms that had aspects of political relations and closeness, business, industry and jobs, had to be kept secret for certain investigations.

“I presume that, with any government in Guyana, there may be occasions when we may want to take similar deliberate actions, too,” Hinds remarked.

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