JIS News

As the government continues to increase public access to official documents, the Ministry of Land and Environment today (Sept.14) launched its website and Access to Information Centre.
At the launching ceremony held at the Ministry’s Half-Way Tree Road offices in Kingston, Land and Environment Minister, Dean Peart, urged the public to make full use of the information available on the website. “We have nothing to hide and we have an open door policy,” he stated.
He also thanked Tank-Weld Ltd for providing the container to house the information centre. Director of Productions at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Ian Boyne, who was the guest speaker at the function, lauded the government’s move towards increasing public access to official documents, as a significant step towards changing the culture of secrecy and enhancing the democratic process.
“The provision and facilitation of information is key to the functioning of a democratic society. The public sector modernization programme is laying the basis for this culture change and the Access to Information (ATI) legislation wouldn’t make any sense without this cultural change and without key public sector officials internalising the value of providing information,” Mr. Boyne pointed out.
He noted that, “the empowerment of people, the facilitation of information, is very critical to the functioning of a democratic society. By people knowing how to go about accessing information, the Ministry is making its contribution to dealing with the matters such as social capital in Jamaica and reducing the level of tension in the society.”
Mr. Boyne congratulated the Ministry on launching the website and called on the public to make full use of the facility to glean information relating to land entitlement, among other land-related issues.
The veteran journalist further called on those in his profession to engage in development journalism. “While we [journalists] have made a lot of howls about government agencies being secretive and government not facilitating information, a lot of time when this information is available we do not use it. When this information is being provided on a website, we do not access it. I want to call on my colleagues to engage more now in development journalism”.
Continuing he added, “we need to realize that we have a significant responsibility to help to build a learning culture and passion for knowledge and information “.
Persons can access the Ministry’s website at www.mle.gov.jm and are being advised to call and make arrangements to gain access to the Ministry’s documents and other information.
The ATI Act gives the public the legal right to see official documents held by government bodies and persons may also request personal information to be changed if it is incomplete, misleading, out of date or incorrect. All official documents are not however accessible and some documents are not disclosed in order to protect essential public interests or the private /business affairs of others.