Guyana Minister Says ATI Law May Be Effective in 2013

21 March 2013

A key minister in Guyana has said the access to information law passed September of 2011 may be implemented by the end of 2013, according to a March 20 article by Denis Scott Chabrol in Demarara Waves quoting Presidential Advisor on Governance, Gail Teixeira.

The law does not go into effect until an information commissioner is appointed, which has not occured.  (See previous report.) Teixeira blamed the delay on difficulties finding a commissioner, the budget, and the lack of information on government websites.

Teixeira appears to have been interviewed in Jamaica at a meeting of Caribbean experts and policymakers to discuss freedom of information and the environment.

“The reason being, I believe, that the selection and appointment of a Commissioner of Information and secondly the other budgetary and other aspects that would have to be put into place,” she told Demerara Waves Online News. The story continued:

Asked when the ATI would be actually implemented, she said that much depended on finding someone to fill the post of Information Commissioner – an appointment that could be made only by the President. “It’s whether persons want the job as it is with other cases where you’re approaching people and they don’t want the job.”

It would be up to President Donald Ramotar to decide whether the vacancy should be advertised or he would handpick someone.

Teixeira also attributed the delay to the lack of information on government websites, according to the article.

“The Access to Information is to try to ensure that as much as possible goes on the various websites and linked so that the areas that you are dealing with by Access (to Information) are those that are not publicly available,” she is quoted as saying.

According to the report, “She hoped that before year-end the ATI would be implemented.”

The Presidential Advisor also said that a number of public records including contracts are deposited at Parliament Building.

The article cites a article reporting on a statement from the U.S. embassy in Guyana encouraging that the government should “effectively put this legislation into action.”

The Regional Conference on Freedom of Information in the Commonwealth Caribbean was held March 20-21.


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