I found it interesting that a number of people who addressed the committee on the Freedom Of Information Bill at Princess Margaret School said they had not read the document or were seeing it for the first time. This was reflected in their queries. The attendance was around 20 and only a few people spoke. This was the third Town Hall meeting I attended. All have had small attendances and few participants with recommendations based on rigourous reading. Being unable to attend the fourth meeting at Alexandra School Wednesday coming I would say that to date we have not had the public discussion necessary for such an important bill. I do intend to make a written submission ahead of the new deadline at the end of November. The Barbados Association of Non Governmental Organisations (BANGO) has been in touch with a few folk and I suggest that persons who are serious about making a contribution contact BANGO and Roosevelt King at firstname.lastname@example.org or 431-8513 or email me at : email@example.com
At this late stage I am still inclined to work with any interested party on a submission, but time is clearly short. I am away for a week on Monday. Concerns about potential conflicts with other legislation (see Barbados Free Press) has led me to send an email to : firstname.lastname@example.org and copy a lawyer on the committee, Ms. Monique Taitt. I have head from nobody and efforts to contact Permanent Secretary Capt. Straughn prior to my departure for a week overseas on Monday have been unsuccessful. I am concerned about the increased cost to taxpayers from any further bloating of bureaucracy; the limited attention to “information” compared with “documents and records”; the absence of even a definition of the meaning of “information” while one is provided of “documents”, the apparent absence of considering best practices in e-Goverment and use of the government portal to reduce cost and avoid another government “silo”. As a soverign nation and leader in the developing world could this legislation not have considered information held in private companies and encouraged access to information which senior civil servants have, even basic explanations? The top down approach to policy has for long been discredited, as against the bottom up approach, where the needs of the society are rigourously pursued. Despite the best intentions, Town Hall meetings do not work, but are necessary. The old and lazy way of public communication is reflected in these failed Town Hall meetings. Ian Bourne suggested using facebook, blogs and even promoting meetings via loud speakers. New Media thinking got Obama elected. When will we understand that advertising via the Government Information Service and wasting thousands of taxpayers dollars in press advertisements is not enough?
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