Ministry of Finance: Apology unnecessary

Despite a suggestion by the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Finance appears to have no intention of issuing an apology to a freedom of information applicant who complained about the ministry’s handling of the request.

Ministry officials said the ombudsman’s report was “disappointingly mis-informative” and called its news release on the matter “unwarranted.”

The complaint arose out of an apparent misunderstanding about the unnamed applicant’s original freedom of information request regarding stamp duty abatements. Only part of the first request was responded to. When that happened, the applicant filed an appeal with the ombudsman on Sept. 7, 2017. On Sept. 13, the finance ministry provided a complete response to the applicant’s second.

In the complaint, the applicant reportedly faulted the ministry for failing to meet with the applicant despite the applicant’s request for a such a meeting.

A press release dated April 30, says, “Ministry was of the opinion that the FOI request was sufficiently clear and that there was no need for a meeting with the applicant. Separately, the applicant demanded to meet with the ministry but refused to provide a reason for the meeting when asked by the ministry on multiple occasions.”

Officials stood on their record, saying of the 83 FOI requests received by the department in the past five years, none but this one had resulted in a complaint.

“The ministry reaffirms its position that its responses were wholly appropriate,” the release says, adding “The Ministry embraces the deputy governor’s goal for achieving a world-class civil service and affirms that, at all times, its staff are respectful, professional, patient, civil and cooperative when responding to FOI requests and interacting with the general public and colleagues.”

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