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Chamber seminar on Pati business impact

Information Commissioner: Gitanjali Gutierrez will speak on Pati at a Chamber of Commerce seminar (File photograph)

Private businesses could be affected by the Public Access to Information Act, designed to give rights of access to records held by government bodies.

Now the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce is to hold a special seminar aimed at outlining how Pati could impact the private sector — which could see commercial information released if they have contracts or business with government or regulatory authorities.

The session, to be held at the Chamber’s Hamilton headquarters next month, will be presented by Gitanjali Gutierrez, Bermuda’s Information Commissioner.

Ms Gutierrez said: “The Pati Act may invoke apprehension, fear, confusion or indifference for business owners — that is until they find themselves face-to-face with a Pati request they want to make, or one that asks a public body for information about their own business.

“The Information Commissioner’s workshop with the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce will help business owners navigate the leap from the idea of transparency to the practical reality of the Pati Act’s process for obtaining information from public authorities.”

Pati allows members of the public to get access to records held by public bodies, including paper documents, photos, e-mails and electronic files, although there are exemptions designed to strike a balance between protecting commercial entities and increased public accountability, especially over public spending.

The Chamber of Commerce said that firms who do work for public bodies, hold business licences or are required to deal with regulators could find themselves involved in Pati releases.

In addition, businesses can use Pati to discover information about procurement criteria, decisions and details of previous and existing contracts.

Kendaree Burgess, executive director of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, said: “Our membership spans a number of industries in the public and private sectors.

“Part of our mission at the Chamber is to represent the collective commercial interests of our members, to act as a conduit between private and public sectors and to create community awareness.

“We’re excited to partner with the Information Commissioner’s office to offer a complementary morning workshop on the Pati Act to our members and the community at large.”

The workshop at the Chamber’s offices, next to the Ferry Terminal in the city, will be held Thursday, February 2, starting at 8.30am.

Anyone who wants to attend should contact Korrin Lightbourne at klightbourne@bcc.bm or phone 295-4201.