“(2) Where an application for accessis made and the agency to whichthe application is made does nothave the information in itscustody, the informat ionofficer -- (a) shall make the necessary enquiryto establish whether any otheragency has the information, and (b) shall transfer the application tothat other agency if the agencyhas the information, and (c) shall notify the applicantaccordingly.”
Mr Speaker, the amendment seeks toadd the ten days mandatory timeframe thatis imposed in subclause (1) and insubclause (2) also; the same exercise ofresponsibility to aid an applicant. All thatthis amendment of the subclause does isto add a timeline of ten days. This isbecause in subclause (1), there is a
mandatory period of ten days withinwhich to exercise that responsibility. So,there is a similar function andresponsibility. Mr Speaker, so, if they are opposed tothe responsibilities imposed on theagency in subclause (2), then they mustgo back to subclause (1). This is becausesimilar responsibilities are imposed on theagency in subclause (1). So, I do not think that there is the needto really push this matter very far. It is justto assist applicants. We are assuming thatthe State, being all powerful and theagencies which harbour all theinformation and are paid from thetaxpayers' money to be able to carry outthat function -- a citizen, in relation tothe State, is the weaker party seekinginformation, it is better to impose moreburden on the State than to impose aburden on the individual. That is all thatthis clause is seeking to do. Mr Speaker, it is true that sometimes,one should not go to the Ministry of Youthand Sports to ask for information aboutfertiliser; but then when we pass alegislation like this and it becomesobvious that an information could beasked for from subject A to Z, it meansthat by their training, they would alsobecome broad minded to know that theinformation being sought is not in theirdepartment. If it is about fertilizer, the first place tostart asking would be the Ministry of Foodand Agriculture and, perhaps, some otheragencies. It would not be a too difficult orwondrous obligation on the part of theinformation officer. Mr Speaker, I do not think that it wouldbe as rigid as Hon Members are implying.It would not be that rigid. In fact, theymay just deal with each other at the
counter. If the applicant brings anapplication and the information officerlooks at it and sees that it is aboutagriculture, but he is in the Ministry ofHealth, he would tell the applicant that hecould get the information from theMinistry of Health; but if the applicantwants the information to be transferredby the information officer, he would doso. The applicant may say, all right, itshould be transferred or he would justwalk to the next building which is theMinistry of Health. Mr Speaker, so let us not be too rigidabout these matters, and let us leave itthe way it is. Thank you, Mr Speaker. Baba Ahmed: Mr Speaker, we aremaking a law, so it is not about friendship.This is because an officer can have adifficult applicant who would come andinsist that he is looking for information inanother Ministry. He goes to anotherMinistry and says that because by lawthe officer has to transfer it, he needs todo so and insists on it. Mr Speaker, my only problem with thewhole thing is that, at the end of the day,it would even be more difficult for theapplicant than we want to make it easy.This is because there are people who maynot even be able to look for theinformation. They would take it and put itdown, the applicant comes in ten days'time and they say they do not have it. What we are saying is that, if the officerdoes not have the information at theMinistry -- This is the Ministry ofEmployment and Labour Relations; wedeal with tsooboi, confusions,
demonstrations and red bands. So, whenone comes to ask about these issues,they would be able to resolve it. When I am asked about when the BlackStars is going to travel or why we arepaying them huge sums of money, all Ineed to do is to say that, please, the bestplace to go for this information is theMinistry of Youth and Sports. We should make it easy for theinformation officer and the applicant. Theapplicant does not need to go and sitdown for ten days before he comes back,only to be told that, I did not get it, I gothalf information or he has to go elsewhere.All we are saying is that, we should makeit easy for all of us; the giver and the takeror the applicant and the one who isrequired to give the information. Mr Speaker, if the officer has theinformation, he should give it within theten days. If he does not, he should advisethe applicant to go to the appropriatesource for that information. If we say hemust transfer it, it would mean that we mayhave a difficult applicant who would comeand insist that even if he has been advised,he would say no; since the officer issupposed to transfer it, he should do so. Mr Speaker, these are some of theproblems that we are likely to encounter.We should make it easier for ourselves. Ifthe Officer does not have the information,the best he can do is to advise theapplicant to go to the appropriate sourceand take the information.