Countz’s ATI claims ‘belligerent’
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Reference is made to a column published in The Gleaner of Wednesday, July 29, 2015, Page C7, titled 'Shameful disregard for accountability', written by A.C. Countz.
In it, the writer belligerently accuses the Honourable Derrick Kellier, minister of labour and social security, and his permanent secretary, Colette Roberts Risden, of flouting the stipulations of the Access to Information (ATI) Act and of behaving in a manner to suggest that they "are above providing information" (to the public).
Countz expresses displeasure with the minister and his permanent secretary because his request to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS) for information in respect of (a) "details of residency and citizenship applications granted to Chinese citizens in each of the calendar years from 2012 to 2014", and (b) for "copies of the NIF accounts and the last actuarial review of the National Insurance Scheme" to be made available were not met within the time the columnist considers reasonable under the ATI Act.
The writer even goes further and slanders the ministry by claiming that its website, "unbelievably, does not have the latest ... NIS actuarial report".
For the record, matters treating with citizenship do not fall under the remit of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. Such matters are properly dealt with by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency, which is an agency of the Ministry of National Security.
Second, the claim that the NIS actuarial report is absent from the ministry's website is patently false. Under the heading 'Public Notices', visitors to our website - mlss.gov.jm - will find posted (dated February 7, 2014) the report titled 'Actuarial Analysis of the Sustainability of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) in Jamaica', prepared by Constance Dalmadge Hall, actuary of Eckler Consultants and Actuaries.
What is more, the said report was tabled in Parliament by Minister Kellier on March 24, 2015.
As to the annual report of the National Insurance Fund (NIF) accounts, the public should know that those accounts are up to date and are laid in the Houses of Parliament each year that the portfolio minister delivers the Budget presentation. For ease of access, however, members of the public can refer to the MLSS Annual Report which contains all relevant details about the NIF accounts.
We trust that this clarification will put to rest any erroneous notion that Minister Kellier and Permanent Secretary Roberts Risden - and indeed, the MLSS in general - are negligent in providing the public (including newspaper columnists) with vital information about the work of the ministry.
Ministry of Labour and
1F North Street