Youth discuss FOI bill

Members of the Cayman Islands Youth Parliament on Saturday discussed benefits of the proposed freedom of information law following a presentation by Chief Information Officer Patricia Ebanks.

She told the youngsters who were in the parliamentary seats acting as members of government and the opposition that the Freedom of Information Bill, which was presented to the Legislative Assembly in November, will place greater obligation on government to be careful in decision-making because most of that information will be made public, said a GIS press release.

‘If people know that the basis of their decisions is going to become public, then they are going to be more careful,’ Ms Ebanks said.

She spoke of the bill bringing about a turnaround in the treatment of information by government workers. ‘When it becomes law it will change the civil service from a culture of secrecy to one of openness.’

Among concerns expressed by the youngsters was the manner in which the civil is being prepared for this responsibility.

Debate on this bill begins in the Legislative Assembly in June. During her discussion with the young parliamentarians Ms Ebanks said that there may be a number of additions and changes before it becomes law. These amendments may be based on feedback during the current stage of public consultation, the release said.

Ms Ebanks noted that Cayman was not far behind other jurisdictions with this legislation. Introduction of the bill at this stage puts the Islands on level with many developed countries and ahead of most of the Caribbean region and the other Overseas Territories, she added.

Members of the Youth Parliament meet weekly in the chamber of the Legislative Assembly practising parliamentary procedures in preparation for Commonwealth Day, 13 March, when they will conduct the business of the House.

The Youth Parliament is being promoted under guidance of the Cayman Islands branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.