Oct 26, 2010 News
… Freedom of Information Bill
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon, says that the drafting of the Freedom of Information legislation along with the Broadcast Bill is taking longer than expected hence the several delays.
Dr Luncheon was speaking at his most recent post Cabinet Press briefing where he pointed out that the constitutional responsibility for introducing legislation lies with the elected government.
That statement was in light of questions as to whether the Alliance For Change’s Freedom of Information Bill will be used in any way.
Dr Luncheon said that he did not see the government sharing the responsibility as it relates to the tabling of legislation
The attention that has been surfacing is of course related to pledges that have been repeatedly raised to introduce Broadcast and Access to Information legislation, said Dr Luncheon
Dr Luncheon said that the administration has been looking at several versions of the legislation but it has to take on board what is felt to be responses to Guyanese reality and its obligations, rights, treaties and conventions that the country has signed on to.
He said that Cabinet protocols include continuous review all of which are intended to be tabled and with a version that will represent the will of the Cabinet.
That process, namely the protocols to follow, has not yet been concluded for either of the two Bills, said Dr Luncheon. “Cabinet has seen quite a few drafts.”
With Government failing to keep the many deadlines it set itself for the enactment of long overdue Broadcast and Freedom of Information Legislations, President Bharrat Jagdeo committed to yet another timeline in August this year.
“As soon as Parliament comes out of recess, the Freedom of Information Act and Broadcast Legislation will be passed,” Jagdeo had told reporters at the Guyana International Convention Centre where he had scheduled a meeting with cable operators.
Parliament has been out of recess ever since October 10 and the Bill now, according to Dr Luncheon, will not be tabled in a hurry
The Prime Minister’s Office was tasked with spearheading the crafting of Broadcast Legislation, while the Office of the President was dealing with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, According to Minister of legal Affairs Charles Ramson.
President Jagdeo holds the portfolio of Minister of Information.
The Broadcasting Bill is seen as key to the issuance of additional TV and radio licences, and breaking the monopoly on radio.
The government owns and controls the country’s lone radio station, National Communications Network, under whose operation the government-run TV station falls. With many complaining of difficulties to access information about government contracts and other similar matters, the FOI is a crucial bill that is expected to make it illegal to withhold information.
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