Saturday, December 27, 2008

Govt must say whether or not it wants FOI law

Sunday Stabroek news item, Sunday 14 December 2008
Govt must say whether or not it wants FOI law
BY Staff
Published: December 14, 2008 in News

Saying the government needs to make a decision, AFC leader Raphael Trotman
intends to advance the long delayed Freedom of Infor-mation Bill through the
National Assembly.
"Either the government wants it or it doesn't," Trotman told Stabroek News.
"It has been in abeyance for almost two years, in the hope that government
would accept the need for the legislation."
There has been "no serious engagement" with the AFC to reach consensus on
the legislation, Trotman said, noting with exasperation that government
spokesman continues to say it was being examined. The main opposition PNCR
has already given its support for the bill. "I intend very soon to bring it
to a head and have the government say to the people of Guyana whether they
want freedom of information legislation," Trotman added.
The successful passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, a private
members' bill, hinges entirely on support of the government, which holds a
majority in the National Assembly. There has been no substantive movement
since the introduction of the bill in November 2006.
In May, government declared that the legislation would ultimately be enacted
but it did not give a clear timeline. Head of the Presi-dential Secretariat
(HPS) Dr Roger Luncheon said freedom of information legislation would be
enacted, though he added it would be only one aspect of access to
His comments were in response to a recommendation made at a Common-wealth
Parliamentary Asso-ciation (CPA) workshop that the government should enact
freedom of information legislation within a clear timeframe and make efforts
to implement it fully.
Another recommendation emanating from the workshop is for the National
Assembly to facilitate the broadcast of its proceedings; and that the
initiative by the Guyana Parliament to establish a communications and public
education unit should be supported. In this regard, it was suggested that
the dedicated parliament channel of Trinidad and Tobago, with its live
television and radio broadcasts, packaged edited versions, as well as
internet transmission of the deliberations of parliament should be studied.
PNCR-1G MP Aubrey Norton has tabled a motion calling for live and unedited
broadcasts of the sittings of the National Assembly. It seeks to have the
sittings of the National Assembly broadcast live and unedited by the
National Communications Network with costs borne by the state. The motion
also seeks to have the Assembly call on the government to allocate a
broadcast frequency for a parliamentary channel as happens in "most
democratic countries." Additionally, the motion proposes a timeframe for
implementation within one month of its adoption by the Assembly.
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1. amen-ra says:
December 14, 2008 at 9:15 am
yes, there's a need for the freedom of information act in
guyana,and the govt need to implement it fortwith.
2. Light says:
December 14, 2008 at 6:09 pm
By procrastination and delay, characteristic of the PPP's
administration methods in stifling reforms; it is already quite clear to the
public, that the political administratin feels threatened by the Freedom of
Information Bill, it is for this reason it has failed to pass this
legislation, which will help to expose the massive corruption, cronyism and
political patronage in government.
December 14, 2008 at 7:39 pm
Contrary to what most people believe, the FOI will not give
full access to ALL files. The Government will seek to place restrictions and
time limits on MOST sensitive Government imformation leaving no room for
transparency. All what the Government seeks to restrict will be restricted,
so it makes no difference if the legislation is acted on or not.
4. caesar agustus. says:
December 14, 2008 at 8:09 pm
The government in order to be transparent, must enact a
freedom of information act. Under the illegal regime of the past,such an act
if tabled,was a basket case.
December 14, 2008 at 11:14 pm
caesar agustus,,,I never knew that Guyana
had an "Illegal regime", this is news to me....I was under the impression
that when an election is held, and supervised by an international Governing
body who declares the results valid, then you have a LEGALLY ELECTED

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