Jamaica Minister Pledges Introduction of ATI Bill

7 May 2015

Jamaica’s minister with responsibility for information, Sandrea Falconer, has said that a new Access to Information Act will be tabled and passed in the current financial year.

Falconer made her comments to The Gleaner, at the same time dismissing opposition assertions that the government was reluctant to propose ATI amendments.

Opposition spokeswoman on Information Olivia “Babsy” Grange and opposition MP Gregory Mair have said amendments approved by the House of Representatives in 2011 should be tabled and debated.

“What is the problem? Why has the Government refused to table the amendments three-and-a-half years after taking office?” Grange asked.

Falconer was quoted as saying that preparations were under way to draft a new bill.

“At all times, outside of the formal review provision, the implementation of the Act and new international best practice are monitored to inform amendments,” she said. The minister said that the government had requested support under the Harmonisation of ICT Policies, Legislation and Regulatory Procedures in the Caribbean (HIPCAR) project, for the drafting of amendments to reflect the recommendations made by the joint select committee of Parliament.

She said an expert on international access to information had prepared a report that would inform the preparation of a Cabinet submission.

Several days later, the Leader of the House of Representatives, Phillip Paulwell also responded, the Jamaica Observer reported.

Paulwall stated:

Having consulted with the Director of the Access to Information Unit, Office of the Prime Minister, I am informed that presently there is no draft Bill to amend the Access to Information Act. The ATI Unit is currently in the process of preparing a Cabinet Submission, the aim of which is to obtain Cabinet approval for the issuing of drafting instructions for the preparation of the Bill to amend the Access to Information Act.

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