Dec 11, 2018 News
The 2019 Budget does not cater for an Office of the Commissioner.
Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo confirmed this yesterday in the National Assembly. Nagamootoo said that this is so because the Commissioner of Information, Charles Ramson senior was dismissed for “rendering his office dysfunctional”.
Nagamootoo’s statements were in response to questions posed by Opposition Member of Parliament, Juan Edghill.
Nagamootoo said, “He has rendered no report to this National Assembly; has provided no account of what he has done.”
Further, Nagamootoo said that the Government and Ramson are before the courts in a “series of litigations” for monies which the commissioner claims are owed to him.
He said that the office of the Commissioner of Information is being “re-examined.”
Nagamootoo said, “We recognise that this is a statutory office and the contractual employment of the last commissioner having been terminated, the Department of Governance and the Office of the Prime Minister will be looking at what measures to have the office resuscitated.”
The Prime Minister emphasised that it is necessary to assign someone who is fully qualified to function in the capacity of Commissioner of Information.
However, the fact that no money was allocated, indicates little intention to make the Office of the Commissioner of Information active in 2019, even with a replaced Commissioner.
Back in 2017, Nagamootoo said that the status of the Commissioner of Information was engaging the attention of the Head of State.
He said, “It is engaging the President’s attention because under the Act, the contract of employment for the commissioner falls under the presidency.”
While there has been a change of events in this regard, it did not prohibit Nagamootoo from making recommendations to the President regarding what should be done with Ramson considering his unsatisfactory performance.”
Prior to the President taking over the matter, Nagamootoo had taken an interest in the issue. But after 20 months, he had still been unaware of what was done by Ramson since he took the post.
Every month, Charles Ramson Snr. collected an attractive $2M package to ensure that citizens have easy access to information.
The Access to Information Act gives no provision in terms of limit in the tenure of office of the Commissioner.
According to the Act, the responsible Minister, should, “as soon as practicable but not later than nine months, after the end of each year lay a report on the operation of this (Access to Information) Act in the National Assembly.”
The Act also states that the said report should include the number of requests made to the Commissioner of Information; the number of applications for judicial review of decisions and the outcome of those applications; the number of complaints made to the Commissioner of Information with respect to the operation of the Act and the nature of those complaints; the number of notices served upon the Commissioner of Information and the number of decisions by the Commissioner, which were adverse to the person’s claim.
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