Sixteen years after it was passed into law, there is still no clear indication of when the Freedom of Information Act will come into effect in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
And at last week’s meeting of Parliament, MP for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings, asked Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves why this is the case.
Cummings, an opposition lawmaker, also asked Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, Legal Affairs, Grenadines Affairs and Energy, to say whether there are plans to bring the law into force, and if not, then why not?
He also asked the prime minister to say when the public can expect the law to come into force, if the government intends to give effect to it.The prime minister said there are two acts that are “inextricably bound together”, the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, which were both passed roughly the same time in 2003 and none of them have been put into effect.
“The reason for this is that shortly after the passage of the act, I was informed by the chambers of the Attorney General that there is an attempt to coordinate across the region, the OECS and indeed in CARICOM, similar type legislation and that there are changes which would be required to these existing laws,” Gonsalves said.
He said that those who are “familiar with the territory of trying to coordinate these things would know that they take an inordinately long time.
“That is the reason why — that they have not been proclaimed. The government is still interested and I, personally, am still interested in both of those bills and I want to see the regional bill come to fruition. I have been advised that they are being worked upon and at the appropriate time I will report to the house as I usually do on these matters,” Gonsalves said.
In a follow-up question, Cummings said that 16 years is an inordinately long time to await a regional bill.
He asked the prime minister why it is that unlike other Caribbean countries that have passed this bill, SVG cannot go ahead with its legislation and await any revision that would come from a Caribbean approach, given the importance of the legislation.
He also asked the prime minister why there was such an inordinately long silence on the part of the government, having passed the bill.
“In fact, it is the first time in my life I am hearing an explanation for this delay,” Cummings said.
However, Gonsalves said he answered the question and the supplementary question was the expression of an opinion.
But House Speaker Jomo Thomas said that Cummings had asked a specific question regarding why SVG can’t go forward with the legislation it has passed.
Gonsalves, however, said: “I refer to the very answer I gave, Mr. Speaker.”
Cummings then chuckled and said: “It is the same thing with the other critical piece of legislation why we can’t have it — Integrity in Public Life bill; the same reason.
“When you say they don’t intend to pass it, they question you. They have no intention of passing it.
“That’s very clear; very clear. They are afraid of it like how the devil ‘fraid holy water.”
The Freedom of Information Bill was passed in the Vincentian Parliament in October 2003.
It received Royal Assent from then Governor-General, Sir Frederick Ballantyne, on the Dec. 15, 2003.
However, the Freedom of Information Act 2003 is yet to come into force.
As de man say lang time ago, every inch ah SVG ah fe he, an true to de habit ah de slave masters class, im nar go gee ono any information dat im don’t tink on shud have. Im ah go keep ono well dunce. An wah,’ ono too renk an shud nah ask no questions.
Ono is fram slaves, so ono shud jus listen to ono masters! Dat how tings stay fram time an ah so it ah go remain til man dead rasta!
Ono shud goway! Ono come ah ask bout freedom af information! Man say ono well renk! Man say ono shud jus remember who im be an who ono be!
Some of you are not fit to be in public life. Hurry and get out of our face. Fed up with the lies, lies and evils . Old people has a saying…… Our dying days will tell on us. If Labour Party did not joln with Yr party, svg would have been a better country. I am so ashamed to know I was born there.
It is now at the point where Gonsalves can say anything, even disrespect the public and expect people to believe him. Read that article above 2X and tell me if this man is legitimate. MP’s alway debating some law that passed but nobody gave a shit etc. And, people can wait. One thing we know for sure after a man has been in power for long it is because of corruption. And worse when public schools close because of rat infestation. SVG people should wake up and smell the coffee. You can’t truly believe that this is it. What Gonsalves is offering is good and there is no other way ahead.
Wow!!! The Prime Minister has been caught with his pants down!
He sure cannot say he “loves the people” now as his obvious avoidance of passing these bills is plain for all to see. It has been exposed that he cares little for truth (except when it benefits him) or the rights of the people. He only passes laws that give him more power as he ignores or obfuscates any law that does not allow him full power. Good job Cummings!
Too bad the doltish and the blinded ULP supporters will act as if this exposure never happened!
None of the three Bills mentioned sit well with the Dynasty, in fact they would have a negative impact on the Dynasty. What the people want, and what the people deserve is unimportant. What is important is that the Dynasty and dirty parts of government can carry on their dastardly work and behaviour in the dark shadows of socialism. Remember democracy dies in darkness, and under the ULP and the Gonsalves/Francis dynasty it has got very dark.
You said GRACE that you are “Fed up with the lies, lies and evils” but remember Ralph Gonsalves did say that he was here to finish the work of Maurice Bishop.
He has not only finished the work of Maurice Bishop but he added Castro and Chavez and bolted on Joseph Stalin for good measure. Just look at us now. Impoverished and impliedly chained to him and his extended family.
Shame on us all!
What Grace is saying is pretty profound. At this point, I won’t be surprised if Gonsalves the ruler of SVG switches his redshirt for Army Fatigues. Obviously, this man is a communist and a quite twisted one.
He doesn’t mind keeping most of the population hungry until election time. Well, Grace I too ask myself: “what it takes to make that?” I feel you. Hold on, our faith will see us through to the end of their evil malpractices.
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