THE EDITOR: According to the AG, the compliance rate as far as the FOIA is concerned is over 90 per cent, with only single-digit refusals.
Given the degree of inefficiencies in most of our institutions, I must say the FOIA is working nearly perfectly. I am not sure we have any other system or process in our country that can boast a 90 per cent success rate. It begs the question: why then interfere with something that works as well as that?
The proposed changes being considered, in which there is an added review by the AG, will encourage and result in most institutions deferring their decision and relying on the AG, instead of themselves.
In doing so, I can see refusals skyrocketing by referring and transferring the responsibility to the AG, thus clogging the system, bringing it in line with the repertoire of inefficiency that already plagues our nation.
The Government says it is amending the FOIA to deal with the “UNC lawyers milking the system.” This centralising measure is clearly not about advocating for better and more just laws, but rather about getting even with Anand Ramlogan. Because he may be wining them in court, they want to trump him in Parliament (where he is absent), at your and my expense.
I think the above point is worth making even though I understand the Government had to withdraw the clause to amend the FOIA.
Instead of offering legislation to fix something already working fairly well, I am more interested in what legislation this Government will bring forward to deal with the businesses that will milk the system to save millions of dollars (at the expense of the NIB) by putting Trinidadian workers on the breadline, replacing them with Venezuelans so they would not have to pay NIS contributions for those employees. Remember businessmen have to pay two-thirds of employees’ NIS contributions.
Forget the FOIA. I am more interested in the “miscellaneous” items under debate, including the enhancement of pensions being proposed for senior government officials. Why should their retirement package include housing and personal allowance when other public servants are not being considered for the same?
More shocking is the unknown and undisclosed dollar amount of this proposal. The Government is asking for a bill to be passed increasing pensions with no hard figures attached. This Government is expecting us to sign a blank cheque with the names of parliamentarians on it. While we are strongly advised to tighten our belts, the Prime Minister is busy loosening his.
GHASSAN YOUSEPH via e-mail