Today’s Editorial March 25: Add your input to FOI Law

With all the talk of constitutional modernisation taking place it would seem that the Freedom of Information Law has been taken to the back burner.

But it hasn’t.

The bill has been passed and now Government wants to hear from each of us on how it should be implemented.

The law is supposed to reinforce the fundamental principles underlying the system of constitutional democracy.

It’s supposed to ensure transparency, accountability and public participation in national decision-making.

According to Government there are many benefits to the FOI law, including:

Provision of an opportunity for individuals to participate in government decisions and to frame the society in which they live;

Increasing the understanding of public authority programs, policies and procedures;

Ensuring the exercise of the public’s other rights;

Making government more efficient and effective;

Increasing trust between the public and the government;

Increasing accountability and providing a tool to fight corruption;

Increasing investment by ensuring the routine availability of information about government policies, the operation of regulatory authorities and the criteria used to make contractual and regulatory decisions.

There will be fees attached to the FOI law and it is our hope they aren’t too prohibitive in helping people seek and get information from Government.

We have already seen some instances of Government agencies requesting that we seek information in written form.

We hope that the FOI Law does not become a tool for keeping information from the public.

We are neither the UK nor the US where nameless and faceless people respond to requests for information.

We are still a friendly island country where most of us know each other. It should never be necessary to have to request simple information in writing instead of just picking up the telephone or making the verbal request in person.

The crux of the FOI bill can be found on Government’s website at www.gov.ky

If you aren’t already familiar with the document, take some time to read through it and offer Government your suggestions on how to effectively implement it.

Send your comments to Freedom of Information Unit

Elizabethan Square, Building D

George Town or phone them at 244-3609.

While the Freedom of Information Law has been passed, it won’t take effect until next year.

And how it is used will depend on us all.