Govt remains committed to PATI, states Premier
Premier Paula Cox has reiterated Government’s commitment to have Public Access to Information legislation operational by the end of the year.
Work continues to be done on the PATI project, Ms Cox said.
She rejected criticism that the Cayman Islands had been far more efficient in rolling out its PATI regime.
Shadow Education Minister Grant Gibbons earlier told the House of Assembly that the Cayman Islands completed its PATI project in a “couple of years”.
“It has taken us almost 12 years to get to not even the same point. They were strategic, they were focused, they had a plan, they executed the plan and they got on with it,” he said.
But the Premier said that a more realistic time frame for the start of PATI in the Cayman Islands was about 21 years ago.
“That’s when the UK Government started in 1984. It’s more recently come of age but it certainly wasn’t a flash in the pan,” the Premier said.
“It requires a lot of work to be done within the various ministries in terms of getting their documents in order and having an information officer within the various ministries.
“We’ve also made sure we’ve funded it and we’ve made a commitment that before the end of the year that PATI will become operational.”
She continued: “But anybody who thinks that it’s an easy issue, it’s not. It requires time, it requires methodical preparation and you have to make sure you have everything in a row both in terms of having your documents prepared, having your document retention policies and having also the legislative framework and rules of engagement. And we’re certainly making sure we have the right person who can assist but there was certainly a very comprehensive and cogent plan that was set out.”
In introducing the Budget highlights of the Cabinet Office, Ms Cox noted that $344,000 was allocated for PATI in the next fiscal year
“A plan identifying key tasks on the path to implementation had been formulated,” she said, adding that all public authorities were developing required information statements.
“It should be noted that the purpose of the information statement is to provide a ‘window’ to those wanting access to information held by a public authority. The information statement identifies the types of documents held by that public authority, what that public authority does, and how a person can access the information they require.”
She continued: “In order to ensure better compliance with the laws, preparatory work is now underway on several levels to design effective guidance resources for departments, to develop proactive and common templates for disclosure, and to create websites so that information is equally available to all.”
And she said accurate records were critical to the PATI regime.
The Premier also revealed that a committee consisting of the department of the Archives, Information Technology, the Central Policy Unit and E-Government had been formed.
“Bermuda may rest assured that a strategy will be established to ensure that the targeted implementation imperatives which adhere to global standards are reached.“
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