There is need for a Freedom of Information Act with teeth

Dear Editor,

The letter from Rev Gideon Cecil and also the letter from Dr Kenrick Hunte in yesterday’s SN point indirectly to the need for a Freedom of Information Act (FOA) with teeth. With this Act persons who are monitoring the society should be able to receive information such as the number of birth certificates issued over the period x to y broken down by region. That information would be analysed against the known number of births according to other statistics, and questions raised.

Again, there is the number of vehicles of what class held by such and such a government department at the beginning of the year and the total value, the total acquisitions and disposals for the same period and the corresponding total values. Of course information on the auctions would be important.

Without this kind of information freely available, I am afraid Guyana is doomed to be treated to revelations like these every few years; the would-be perpetrators wait for a while when everyone has forgotten, only to resume their nefarious activities. Then we get another flurry of activity, police traffic campaign style.

One is beginning to have an appreciation of the possible connection between the steadfast refusal to pass a strong FOA, the refusal to even appear to cooperate with the test request from TIGI under that weak Act disguised under an explosion of arrogance, and the unexplained wealth of many functionaries.

The question Dr Hunte did not pose was how widespread a practice was the likely deliberate degradation of the receipting system. If it was just in that specific government department, who changed it? If it was in all government departments, same question. Apparently, those who are stridently objecting to witches being hunted (no pun intended) know why.

Yours faithfully,

Frederick W A Collins

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