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New ATI Act to be tabled and passed this parliamentary year

Published:Thursday | April 30, 2015 | 12:00 AM

MINISTER WITH responsibility for information Sandrea Falconer has dismissed assertions by her opposition counterpart Olivia Grange that the Government was reluctant to table amendments to the Access to Information Act (ATI).

Falconer told The Gleaner a new ATI Act would be tabled and passed in the current financial year.

Grange charged that the Government had breached the provisions of the ATI Act when it failed to carry out regular reviews of the law, a claim which Falconer brushed aside saying there is no contravention.

Falconer said the Government is taking steps to make critical amendments to the law from the most recent review.

"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 added.

The minister divulged that the Government requested support under the Harmonisation of ICT Policies, Legislation and Regulatory Procedures in the Caribbean (HIPCAR) project, for the drafting of the Access to Information (Amendment) Bill to reflect the recommendations made by the joint select committee of Parliament.

Expert's report

She said an expert on international access to information/freedom of information law took the recommendations of the joint select committee, and utilising the HIPCAR model law as well as regional and international best practices, prepared a report.

She said the report, along with the drafting instructions and draft bill, would inform the preparation of a Cabinet submission.

In her contribution to the Sectoral Debate, Grange said the delay by the Government in bringing the amendments to the ATI Act to Parliament, after more than three years in office, is a threat to "our freedom of information".

She said the last mandatory review of the law ended in 2010.