Jun 26, 2016 News
All contracts should be public – UK envoy
By Abena Rockcliffe- Campbell
The fact that the media is having a hard time getting hold of contracts and concession agreements signed by public officials—both past and present—is a source of discomfort to United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner, Greg Quinn. Quinn’s position is that unless the disclosure of a signed contract would compromise national security, it should be made public.
During a recent interview, the envoy said that people demand transparency. This demand should be met by any government worth its salt, he added.
Quinn said, “Transparency is fundamental. It is at the core of everything that is good in governance as happens in the UK.”
The envoy said that the UK has made it a principle to keep citizens informed especially about how their tax dollars are spent.
He said that the rare situation should be when institutions falling under both Central and Local Government decide not to make a contract public and the reasons for that should be clear and legitimate.
“The default position should be to produce and publish as much information as possible. The exception should be withholding. It definitely should not be the norm to do so.
“Also, there should be very clear criteria for holding information back; for example on the basis of National Security that’s how we do it in the UK. I definitely support President Granger’s statement in that respect, said Quinn.
The statement to which the High Commissioner referred is a recent one. President David Granger said that he believes that all contracts and agreements should be fully disclosed to the public. But despite Granger’s statement, the situation remains the same on the ground; contracts are not being released.
During an interview with Kaieteur News, the Head of State was reminded of a promise that his government had made on several occasions.
Granger and his team had promised that certain contracts and concession agreements would be made available to the public, especially those which relate to the controversial Chinese logging company, BaiShanLin Forest Development Inc. and the Marriott Hotel.
But it has been a year since the APNU+AFC coalition has taken office and this promised release is not yet a reality. Kaieteur News then asked Granger if he intends to honour the commitment or if he has changed his mind.
The Head of State made it clear that he believes in full disclosure and has no intention of changing his mind. Granger said that the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) and the other branches of government should make concession agreements public.
However, the President said that the procurement of defence equipment should be kept under wraps. Granger said, “In some situations in which equipment is supplied under the agreement of secrecy by foreign countries, depending on the nature of the equipment, we are of course not free to disclose, because you agree with another country that you would not do so.”
Aside from this, the President reiterated his belief that commercial agreements should not be treated as “state secrets” and that they should be fully disclosed.
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