The Guyana Consumers Association welcomes the introduction of this Bill like many other Guyanese.  In our look at the Bill we are urging consumers to really study it and not be afraid to ask questions to clear up issues that may arise.

When consumers ask questions during this period they may be able to avoid having to fight long legal battles to ensure that they are not deprived of their rights.

Consumers should take note that while this part indicates that every citizen is entitled to information, so too it explains reasons for which persons may be deprived of access to information.

Explanatory memorandum

Part IV deals with the right of access to information. It provides the right of all Guyanese or persons domiciled in Guyana to obtain access to an official document. This right may also be extended by the Minister by order to non-Guyanese and persons not domiciled in Guyana. Public authorities have the onus to maintain all their records duly catalogued, classified and indexed in a manner and form which facilitates the right of access to information.

This Part lists documents which are exempted from right of access and the circumstances under which the Commis-sioner of Information may defer the provision of access. It stipulates the different forms in which access to a document may be given. It states the procedure by which a person may make a request, namely by the form set out in the Schedule to the Bill, on the website of the Commissioner of Information or by other electronic means.

The person must provide sufficient information to enable the Commissioner of Information or an officer of the public authority to identify the document with reasonable effort. Application for access is free, however, where access is to be given in printed copies or copies in some other form, the applicant must pay a prescribed fee.  In certain circumstances a document requested may contain exempt matter. In these circumstances, the Commissioner of Information may advise the applicant to revise his application or inform the applicant that he can be given access to the document with the exempted matter deleted.

There are also instances where the Commissioner of Information may refuse to grant access to documents where he is satisfied that the request is made by or on behalf of a person who on at least one previous occasion has made a request for access to the same document where the request was refused in the High Court or where there are no reasonable grounds for making the request again.

To be continued

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