JIS News

The Access to Information Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), has arranged a series of ‘Open Days’ at specific government Ministries to allow members of the public to view documents that fall within the scope of the Access to Information Act.
The Ministry of Transport and Works will have its ‘Open Day’ on October 27, followed by the Ministry of Agriculture, which will host its ‘Open Day’ on November 10. The Ministries of Health and Labour and Social Security will host their ‘Open Days’ on November 24 and December 10, respectively. All ‘Open Days’ will be facilitated between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the selected Ministries.
Aylaire Livingstone, Director of the Access to Information Unit, told JIS News that ‘Open Days’ are actual extensions of the Access to Information exhibitions that have been taking place at the various Ministries.
The Director noted that with the ‘Open Days’, the public will be able to get first hand information on a number of issues, as people will be able to access various documents.
Miss Livingstone said that with the ‘Open Day’, as long as the documents required by the public were not exempt from the Access to Information Act, then persons would have access to these documents on the same day.
However, she said if this was not possible, then persons might request the documents from the particular Ministry, after which they would be provided with the documents within a 30-day period.
Miss Livingstone explained that the ‘Open Days’ do not mean that people would not have access to the documents at other times, but that they could still make their requests to the Ministries for the documents at any other time during the year. “The ‘Open Day’ is just bringing access to information more to the fore on that particular day, and we are still open for business on other days,” she added.
Miss Livingstone pointed out that persons could make requests for documents via a letter, the telephone or by using the application form which was available on the various ministries’ web sites.
On receipt of a request, the Responsible Officer in the particular Ministry in charge of soliciting the information will reply (either by telephone, e-mail, or letter) to the person making the request within the 30-day period, as to whether or not the documents can be given, or be solicited in that time frame.
If the documents required are not available at the Ministry the request is made to, the Responsible Officer would then transfer the request to the Ministry, which keeps those records, while informing the person who made the request of the transferral.
Miss Livingstone pointed out that the person who requests a document and is denied access to such a document, is able, under the Act, to make an appeal at two levels for such documents, whether through the Ministry’s Internal Review or through the Appeal Tribunal. If the decision taken by the Appeal Tribunal is a negative one, then the person has the right to take the case to the Courts.
She noted that so far, all government Ministries, except the Ministries of Industry and Tourism and Land and Environment were subject to the Access to Information Act. It is expected that by year-end both ministries will fall under the Act. Access to Information Open Day for Ministries October – December 2004 Date Venue Contact Person October 27, 2004 Ministry of Transport & Works 138 Maxfield Avenue, Kgn 10. Tel: 754-1900-1 Fax: 754- 2595 Website: www.mtw.gov.jm Mrs. Myrtle Williams Documentation Officer November 10, 2004 Ministry of Agriculture Hope Gardens, Kgn. 10 Tel: 927-1731-50/977-9169 Fax: 977-1875 Email: ati@moa.gov.jm Website: www.moa.gov.jm Mrs. Claudette Milford- Allen Director, Information & Documentation November 24, 2004 Ministry of Health 2 King Street, Kgn Tel: 967-1100-7/967-2390> Fax: 967-7293 Email: diasv@moh.gov.jm Website: www.moh.gov.jm Mrs. Vinnese Dias Manager, Information & Documentation December 10, 2004 Ministry of Labour & Social Security IF North Street Kgn. Tel; 922-9500-9/967-7743 Fax: 922-6902 Miss Portia Magnus Director, Record Management & Information

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