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Freedom Of Information Act ‘Not Likely Under Christie Administration’

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Dr. Duane Sands

By KYLE WALKINE

Tribune Staff Reporter

kwalkine@tribunemedia.net

IT IS more than likely the Bahamas will neither see a Freedom of Information Act nor a constitutional referendum as long as the Christie administration is in control because it is “not one of their major priorities”, a senior Opposition figure claimed yesterday.

Free National Movement (FNM) Deputy Chairman Duane Sands said the two-year delay in implementing the Act showed a lack of legislative discipline. “An FOA would move us light years ahead. For the first time the public would realise that what we do in public office is not a secret service,” he said.

Dr Sands defended the Freedom of Information Bill that was passed in the House of Assembly before the 2012 General Election, saying that it was almost verbatim to the Act in the Cayman Islands. While he conceded there was room to make it better, Dr Sands stressed there was no reason for it to take up to two years before the government could produce a revamped Act to parliament. 

“The last thing this crew wants is a Freedom of Information Bill to be brought before parliament,” he said. “It will not happen; period. It won’t happen just like we’re not going to see a constitutional referendum, neither Marco’s Law.

“There is no legislative discipline here at all. But they can put forth a numbers bill and a stem cell bill. The former FNM government was very near to putting in place the Freedom of Information Act. We just became challenged because the economy went to hell and FOA became a lesser priority than keeping the ship from sinking. But we made a commitment and honoured.”

Dr Sands said the country’s democracy is at risk of “being hijacked” at the table of the special interest.  “Unfortunately, I think we are in a very dangerous era in our country,” Dr Sands said. 

Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald, who also has responsibility for the FOA, recently told the media that the Department of Archives suggested an implementation timeline of 18 to 24 months. 

However, Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Leader Branville McCartney said the government’s “feet dragging” in implementing the FOA is just another way to keep Bahamians uninformed as to what is really happening within their country. 

“I find it amazing that it will take two years to amend a bill which is before the House of Assembly,” the DNA Leader told The Tribune yesterday. 

“I must stress that prior to any Value Added Tax (VAT) coming into force in this country, we must have a viable FOA. This was recommended by the consultants from New Zealand. As a result of the recent report from the United States on the government’s lack of transparency there is a desperate need for a FOA.”

Mr McCartney said a FOA will not only drag several skeletons out of the closet of the government, but will have them thinking twice about their current practices. 

“We have a very arrogant government,” Mr McCartney said. “They are basically telling us how certain processes are done. The government says there was a select bidding process in the Renew Bahamas situation. But there’s no such thing in law as a select bidding process. BEC awarded some contract to a Carolina-based company. However, I understand that same company is one of the five bidders on the table for BEC’s privatisation. That tells us the government is going to award the deal to that company.”

Mr McCartney said again the government is quiet on this issue as well. 

The DNA Leader said when the PLP was in opposition, they made some very good recommendations to fix the Freedom of Information Bill.  However, he questions the hold up as it can be fixed in less than a month if they wish. 

Comments

Purcell 5 years, 10 months ago

Not because it is “not one of their major priorities” but because it is not in their interest.

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asiseeit 5 years, 10 months ago

Without a Freedom of Information act that has teeth, this Nation will never move Forward, Upward, Onward, and most certainly not Together. The nefarious deals will continue to be made. the peoples money will continue to be doled out in a most wasteful manner, and the Political elite and their crony's will continue to sell the Bahamian people down the river. There is zero accountablity in the country. There is nobody holding to look out for the common man. There is nothing to stop what has been happening for the last forty years. How much longer can this continue? That is the burning question. How much longer until it comes to the boiling point and everyone is burned?

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 10 months ago

The TRUTH Dr. Sands it was not likely under Mr. Ingraham's administration. and you were there like Papa's good little boy and did not open your mouth, or had anything to say about the Freedom of information

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sheeprunner12 5 years, 10 months ago

Hubert brought a jacked up version........ Perry scrap it ........... just like constitutional reform

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SP 5 years, 10 months ago

Like BLT, Minnis and Darren Cash, Dr. Sands is suffering from selective Alzheimer's.

The FNM sat on the FOIA for years while the little naked emperor Hubert Ingraham ran around like a dictator practicing ass.

Sands, BLT (yes that's BLT), Minnis and the rest of the FNM jelly bellies had absolutely NOTHING TO SAY when they had the power to make a difference......Now suddenly all of them developed acute verbal diarrhea complicated by stupidity and selective Alzheimer's.

The only time a politician is telling the truth is when he is calling another politician a liar.

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GrassRoot 5 years, 10 months ago

the reality is no one of the political establishment has an interest in FOIA. Only way is to strengthen the press and create independent radio.

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TalRussell 5 years, 10 months ago

I think Comrade Duane is most sincerely trying but not sure how say, maybe even confess he own personal red shirts guilt, that the peoples don't need just another government "someday get-around to it, worthless piece legislation" likes they got's under 15 long years of Hubert regimes

Amen!

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Revolutionary 5 years, 10 months ago

Bahamians, Our country is sick with corruption. The blame climbs up the ladder from person to minister to prime minister, but to find the true culprit, you need only look in a mirror. We know what is happening, yet we do nothing. Some feel they are alone, they have none to face this government with them. Most are scared - scared that if they raise their voice, they will be detained; political power will be exerted on them. If you are fine with what you see around you, what you see happening to this country, stay home the 26th. But, if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, I ask that you join us on July 26th outside of Parliament for a call for action, for accountability and for justice.

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SP 5 years, 10 months ago

What's happening July 26th? Who, what and where?

Google "stop the haitian invasion of the bahamas" and sign the petition to empower government to deal with the illegal haitian migration dilemma.

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