Freedom of Information Bill tabling deadline near– AFC reminds
Posted By Stabroek staff On June 14, 2009 @ 5:21 am In Local News | 4 Comments
With the deadline approaching, the Alliance For Change (AFC) has issued a public reminder to the administration of President Bharrat Jagdeo’s promise to table long-awaited Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation.
Gail Teixeira 
President Jagdeo announced in April, during the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, plans to table the legislation within a two-month period. Up to that time, the administration had failed to act on the FOI bill tabled in the National Assembly by AFC leader, Raphael Trotman two years ago.
Presidential Advisor on Governance Gail Teixeira told Stabroek News that the legislation is being drafted and would be tabled in the National Assembly shortly. When informed that the two-month timetable given by the President is approaching, she said, “These things take time.” She insisted that work is continuing on the bill and it would be introduced in the assembly upon completion.
Meanwhile, when approached on the issue, Attorney General Charles Ramson declined to comment. “I have nothing to say on that,” he said repeatedly. As he walked off, he uttered, “This is not America.”
At a news conference on Wednesday, AFC MP Sheila Holder noted that the government has said it would be using the Trinidad & Tobago model as a precedent just as the AFC did. “President Jagdeo is reminded that he made his promise in a very public and international way and that the eyes of the free world are on him and his government,” said Holder, who declared that the President’s failure to keep his word would indicate that the government only gives ‘lip service’ to the concepts of democracy and good governance.
She added that while the AFC supports the introduction and passage of this legislation, the government should remember that the party has already placed legislation before the National Assembly designed to achieve the same objective of providing access to information to members of the public. “The AFC is more than willing to have the government endorse, and adopt its bill in order to expedite the process,” she stated.
Sheila Holder 
When asked about the success of consultations to get support for its bill, Trotman noted that there had been no serious consultations with the government. He explained that both the main opposition PNCR-1G and GAP/ROAR had publicly pledged their support for the bill and that the AFC had always indicated its willingness to engage the governing party on advancing the legislation. “The government, I believe, wanted a face-saver,” he said, referring to the fact announcement made by President Jagdeo when he was pressed by international journalists to respond to questions about governance, corruption, and transparency in Guyana. The AFC had placed a full-page advertisement in the Trinidad Express during the Summit, highlighting its concerns about governance in Guyana.
Trotman said the AFC would support the government’s tabling of the legislation, since it is more important to the country than it is for the party. However, he noted that while President Jagdeo indicated that consultations would have been held with stakeholders, this has not been undertaken. “So, we believe there is probably going to be some kind of hurried approach coming into the two-week deadline,” he said, adding, “Hopefully we will get some action soon.”
4 Comments (Open | Close)
4 Comments To "Freedom of Information Bill tabling deadline near"
#1 Comment By Peregrine Falcon [Controlling Behavior by Legislation] On June 14, 2009 @ 8:24 am
It is a commendable move, for the government to put in motion the process to have Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation approved in the national assembly by two months time. I have worked with Ms Gail Teixeira (presidential advisor on governance) while she was the minister of health and she was indeed a thorough and likeable person. Adapting similar legislation from other countries where situations are similar (as in the case of Trinidad & Tobago) is highly desirable. This approach is taken by many sovereign nations, as the original document provides the scope of the intended legislation and forms the basis on which to build. I have worked for over 30 years in the public service in Guyana and was always amazed to see how confidential information was collected and disseminated. Public officials were so often betraying trust and confidence of clients by “letting the cat out of the bag”. This legislation will bring Guyana in line with one of the ways business is conducted in the developed world. I have been working with the Ontario Provincial Government since 2002 and I have to constantly remind myself of two pieces of legislation i.e. Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy. These legislations regulate the ways confidential information is collected and released to clients, courts, media houses etc. They facilitate confidence and trust among the clients that public officials serve and reduce incidence of liability by employers. Additionally, they also create excellent public character of organizations and achieve derisible behavior of public officials. This is certainly the way forward- good luck! for a brighter tomorrow.
#2 Comment By Brandon Samaroo (End the PPP Dictatorship Now!) On June 14, 2009 @ 9:13 am
More shenanigans by Jagdeo it will be a good sign if jagdeo yet again goes back on his word it wont be the first time or the last.
But it will show the international community even more that he is not credible as many people have been saying for a very long time.
Jagdeo on another note where is the video tape man? like yuh loss de tape or what?
And how come de press has not been invited to see the so called Raja khan computer you claimed that you have?
#3 Comment By amen-ra [jackass seh de world na level] On June 14, 2009 @ 10:37 am
I’m waiting to see when the bill will be passed, and see if the president is a man of his words, the world is looking at you mr. president.
#4 Comment By gap1 On June 14, 2009 @ 11:05 am
In any Country!
PPP, pass the Freedom Of Information Act Now!
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