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Govt still searching for an information commissioner to head Freedom of Information Office

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said yesterday the government is challenged with locating a information commissioner for the Freedom of Information Office.

While appearing as a guest on the Guardian Radio 96.9 FM talk show “Morning Blend” with host Dwight Strachan, Turnquest said, “It’s been very difficult for us to find the commissioner which has to have some kind of unique skills and this is not my area of expertise.”

Turnquest said the government is looking both locally and internationally for an individual to head the office.

“As I said, this is not my area but I know they have been [looking] and they may have identified,” he said.

“Let me not go there because it’s not my area. But, I know that they have been looking for a person. The funding is there. The office is being set up. The physical environment is being set up for this.

“So, I fully anticipate that we’re going to get there very shortly.”

A revamped version of FOIA was passed under the Christie administration in February 2017.

The act provides for the governor general, upon the recommendation of the prime minister after consultation with the leader of the opposition, to appoint an information commissioner who would be responsible for establishing, operating and administering a Freedom of Information Unit.

The government has promised the full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) since assuming office in 2017.

In December 2018, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said FOIA would be fully implemented “very soon”.

However, that has not happened yet.

There has been criticism on the lack of progress on the full enactment of FOIA. Organization for Responsible Governance raised concern that the delays could mean going into another election without the full enactment completed.

Last year, Attorney General Carl Bethel said he expected an information commissioner to be named by the end of 2019.

However, Bethel assured that the government is committed to the matter.

In January, he said the contract for the refurbishment of a Freedom of Information Office, which has been identified as the former Eugene Dupuch Law School Library Building, is out to tender.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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