Bermuda New Law Will Make Impact, Commissioner Says

30 September 2015

In effect since April 1, Bermuda’s Public Access to Information Act (PATI) will inevitably change a secretive government culture, according to the Island’s first information commissioner, Gitanjali Gutierrez.

She predicted major disclosures during an interview with Sam Strangeways of the Royal Gazette.

“I think it’s inevitable that a few requests will get a lot of attention and then we may see more frequent use of the Pati Act —especially because under the Westminster system, decision-making is traditionally secretive and the Pati Act is changing this,” Gutierrez said.

“This is going to be a long-term change in our democracy. It’s going to take some time for people to understand that — not just elected officials, but everyone working in a public authority,” she said.

The Royal Gazette also reported that consultants working for the Bermuda Government and other public authorities will have details of their salaries routinely revealed under the new law. “Taxpayers will be told on a regular basis about every contract worth $50,000 or more, including those with individuals, entered into by the Island’s 200-plus public bodies,” according to the article

“Journalists have been making good use of the Public Access to Information (Pati) Act since it became law on April 1 — but not every request for disclosure has been successful,” the paper said in an article describing the efforts.

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