Financial Policy Council exempt from Pati
Records of the Financial Policy Council will be exempt from public access to information requests if newly tabled legislation is passed.
Gitanjali Gutierrez, the Information Commissioner, said the move would mean the council would be the first financial public authority whose non-administrative records were removed from Pati.
A statement from her office said: “It is the Information Commissioner’s view that records related to the financial and economic interests of Bermuda are already adequately protected under existing exemptions under the Pati Act, including section 31.
“This section protects the disclosure of records which could have a serious adverse effect on the financial interests of Bermuda or on the ability of the Government to manage the national economy, unless their disclosure is in the public interest.”
The statement said that in jurisdictions such as Britain, records related to financial operations or monetary policy were exempted from public disclosure, but such exemptions were balanced by a “formal transparency governance framework” to ensure appropriate information was made public.
The statement added: “It is the Information Commissioner’s view that, from a public access to information perspective, the proposed framework for the Financial Policy Council does not meet the same standards as the formal transparency governance frameworks adopted by other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom.
“If the Amendment Bill is adopted as proposed, the Information Commissioner strongly urges that it be supported by a robust and formal transparency framework for the Financial Policy Council, to ensure that the public’s right to access information is protected.”
The Public Access to Information Amendment Act 2019, tabled in the House of Assembly on Friday would put any records obtained or created by the Financial Policy Council outside of the scope of Pati requests.
Legislation already exempts records of the Auditor-General, the Ombudsman, courts and tribunals, and the Attorney-General’s Chambers from Pati.
The ICO statement said: “The functions of those public authorities fall into three categories; oversight over other public authorities, judicial functions and the provision of legal advice to the Government.
“The Information Commissioner notes that the Financial Policy Council does not fall into the above categories, nor are its functions and responsibilities outlined in any provision of law.”