The Alliance for Change (AFC) will today mount a picketing exercise outside Public Buildings primarily as a result of the delay in presenting and enacting the long-awaited Access to Information Bill as well as the Broadcast Legislation.
“This protest action is being called to register our disapproval of the abuse of workers rights in the bauxite industry as well as Government’s intransigence in enacting Freedom of Information Laws.”
According to the Party’s Presidential Candidate, Khemraj Ramjattan, the actions stem partially from demands by the people of Linden who he said are subjected to just listen to the National Communications Network “propaganda”
He said that the protest is meant to condemn the actions and inactions of the government.
Speaking to the recent stipulation that Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon said that even with the Access to Information Legislation persons will have to pay to get the information, Ramjattan said that it could be tantamount to an unconstitutionality.
He chided the administration for its stance on that precondition which will be a hurdle to persons interested in some bit of information.
“You could give away laptop free but to get information you got to pay,” Ramjattan said.
He said that the government is seeking to be a dominating force holding control over everything.
Following several revised deadlines for the long awaited Freedom of Information legislation to be tabled in the National Assembly it appears that interested stakeholders will have to wait awhile longer.
Several Government officials, including Head of State Bharrat Jagdeo, had said that the Bill would be tabled in the House by this August before the Parliamentary recess that commences Tuesday, with the final sitting on Monday.
The Bill is yet to be placed before the National Assembly.
Leader of the Alliance For Change, Raphael Trotman, who had tabled and has since put on pause a proposed bill, recently told this newspaper that he was disappointed that the Government did not see it fit to support the Freedom of Information legislation.
He had noted that his disappointment was further fuelled by the fact that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association had held a workshop for Parliamentarians and media operatives, where Freedom of Information (FOI) was extensively discussed.
He conceded that legislation such as the FOI will take time, but pointed out that there was a resounding call by Guyanese, who were now beginning to understand the importance of such a piece of legislation, as well as the calls from the international organisations.
Trotman emphasised that Freedom of Information is important for good governance and transparency.
The essence of the Freedom of Information Act, according to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), is the empowerment of the populace to request any piece of information (with few exceptions, such as medical records) held by a public authority.
The protest action by the AFC will also focus on the plight of the affected bauxite workers.
“The AFC believes that the administration’s inaction to a foreign owned company tramples upon the inalienable rights of workers is tantamount to a complete abandonment of an earlier espoused working class ideology.”
The party says that it is of the view that the apathetic and retrograde stance which the Government has adopted with regard to the enacting of Freedom of Information laws reflects an inherent control agenda which is abrasive to the AFC guiding principle of liberal democracy.
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