Christopher Famous
Christopher Famous

Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can.

The Public Access to Information (PATI) Act was passed by the PLP in 2010 in order to:

1. Give  the the public the right to obtain access to information held by public authorities

2. Increase transparency and 

3. Increase accountability 

When the Act was passed, the public was informed that it would take approximately two to three years to initiate as much preparatory work as was required to get Government, municipalities, parish councils and other public entities compliant.  In 2012, the then Cabinet Secretary Donald Scott announced that the PLP was on track to institute PATI.  However, PATI was unfortunately delayed due to the 2012 General Election.

PATI Politics

PATI received a lot of press with political representatives of the UBP, BDA and OBA all claiming that its implementation was of the utmost importance.

In 2011, the then UBP Deputy Opposition Leader Trevor Moniz told PLP to “get a move on…… we are falling behind already”.

Adding to the furor, BDA MP Shawn Crockwell said: “It raises real concerns about Government’s seriousness regarding this initiative when commitments like the appointment of an Information Commissioner by the end of 2010 are not fulfilled.” Royal Gazette January 6th, 2011

Words vs Actions

“The One Bermuda Alliance made better governance a centrepiece of its plans for Bermuda… reform to bring the highest levels of accountability and transparency to the business of government……..Good intentions are one thing, but without action they amount to little.” OBA press release January 13th, 2013

Oh, the ironies of that statement.

While PATI formed a vital part of the OBA election campaign, this appeared to change once they were elected.  PATI was not even important enough to be mentioned in their first Throne Speech. 

 During the Budget Debate in the House of Assembly on March 6th, 2013, Premier Cannonier stated that there were three outstanding issues surrounding PATI:

  • Recruitment of permanent PATI staff;
  • Promulgation of PATI Regulations;
  • Amendments to the PATI Act.

During the subsequent twelve months following this statement, not one of these three items was addressed. 

In fact, in the 2013/14 fiscal year, OBA only spent $80,000 of PATI’s allotted budget of $335,000, revealing how little value OBA placed on PATI. Then the 2014/15 Budget showed that the OBA had slashed the budget to $146,000.  Furthermore, the OBA have no performance indicators in place for PATI.  

The urgent need for PATI

It is no surprise that OBA is dragging its feet on PATI as they seem to have a lot to hide including:

1. JetGate

2. The real reason behind the abandoning the referendum

3. The Tourism Authority’s CEO pay package

4. The Municipalities Act amendments and the plans to make leases retroactive

5. The Lamb Foggo Clinic closure

6. Accusations of civil service intimidation in the AG office

7. The names of persons / businesses that were granted government contracts of $50,000 or more

8. The merger of Northrock and Logic two days before the Regulatory Authority was enacted

It is becoming more and more apparent to all that the OBA has no intention of living up to their campaign promise of accountability and transparency. 

The butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker seem far too busy painting the town red in travel expenses. n

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