JIS News

Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special projects, the Hon. Daryl Vaz, called off Thursday’s meeting of the Joint Select Committee reviewing the Access to Information Act, after members failed to turn up on time.
Mr. Vaz, who as minister responsible for information chairs the committee, postponed the meeting at Gordon House to November 19, after waiting for sometime and failing to obtain a quorum. He suggested that the members having difficulties attending the meetings, should notify their respective leaders about their problems.
“I have been appointed a member of committees, not in the capacity of Chairman, in the past and asked respectfully to be relieved of it because of other pressing matters. I would suggest strongly to other members, that they do the same, if it is that they have either ministerial workload or private work load, because that could well be a possibility,” Mr. Vaz said.
“The work of this committee must go on, so let me just send a strong signal to say that I won’t be the one to spoon feed anybody in relation to calling and begging and pleading for them to come. If they don’t take the business of the country that seriously, then they know what they should do,” he stated.
Mr. Vaz apologised “to the entire country”, as chairman of the committee, for the failure to meet.
“This is totally unacceptable and totally embarrassing to those that are here,” he commented. He said that he would speak, personally, to members and follow-up with a letter indicating that, if it there is an issue, they should notify their respective leaders.
The Joint Select Committee has been meeting under Mr. Vaz’s chairmanship since June 30, 2009, but had been meeting since March 26, under the chair of his predecessor, Olivia Grange.
In response to calls for submissions, submissions have been received from the Access to Information Advisory Stakeholders Committee; the Media Association of Jamaica; and Carole Excell, Attorney-at-law and the Freedom of Information Coordinator in the Cayman Islands.
The Access to Information Act mandates that the Act should be reviewed every three years. Members of the Review Committee are drawn from the Senate and the House of Representatives. A quorum of, at least, five members is required for meetings.

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