UPDATED: Government Posts PDF Version Of Throne Speech Online Friday Afternoon, February 15, 2008 – After Barbados Free Press published our original article below, and five and a half hours after the text of the Throne Speech was first published in our comments section.
The Barbados Government Information Service posted a PDF’d version of the Throne Speech online at about 2:29pm Barbados time – about a half an hour after we published this article and about five and a half hours after BFP reader Civilsociety published the text of the Throne Speech in our comments section at 9:08am.
You now can download the official government version of the Throne Speech from the Barbados Government Information Service website (link here) We haven’t yet downloaded the PDF or compared it to the text posted on Barbados Free Press. Perhaps one of our readers wouldn’t mind giving us a hand with that. Thanks!
Golly… If the Barbados Government Information Service finally posted the Throne Speech, I guess that fellow who was “off the island on personal business” finally returned!
Here is our original article…
Interesting That The First Online Publication Of The Throne Speech Was On A Blog!
Today, Friday, February 15, 2008 at 9:08am (Barbados time), BFP reader Civilsociety obtained and posted what purports to be a legitimate and full text version of the Barbados Government Throne Speech read to Parliament on Tuesday, February 12, 2008.
We say “purported” because although it is probably as Civilsociety says the real thing received from the Barbados Government Information Service – the “real thing” is not officially posted online anywhere. And, after all, our reader is an anonymous citizen.
Did Civilsociety add or remove anything from the text that he or she posted? Probably not, but again, a posting on a part-time blog by an anonymous citizen is hardly the preferred method of providing general access to government public documents!
Nonetheless, a posting on Barbados Free Press is the method chosen by the Government of Barbados to make the full text of the throne speech widely available to the ordinary citizen.
A Bit Of Face-Saving By The DLP Government?
As of now, Friday morning, callers to the Government Information Service are being told that the full text of the Throne Speech was available to be emailed to citizens from Wednesday morning – HOWEVER – we know of two persons who phoned the GIS on Wednesday as late as 3:11pm and were told “ahh… I don’t know. Call back tomorrow (Thursday).”
Also most telling is the fact that DLP government insider Wishing In Vain was unable to come up with any version of the Throne Speech on Wednesday or Thursday – saying that the only government person who could post it was away from the island. (guffaw!)
The evidence is that the full text version of the Barbados Throne Speech has only been available to ordinary citizens since this morning – Friday, February 15, 2008 – after three full days of citizens on the blogs demanding transparency.
And still there is no “official” version posted online by the Barbados Government. It looks like a bit of “face-saving” is going on by the DLP government. They will send out the text via email if you call – but it can’t be posted online because (wink wink) the only government person capable of doing this is “off the island on personal business”.
Freedom Of Information & Government Accountability: Where Do We Go From Here?
Facilitating citizens’ access to public information published or held by the government is a true test of whether a government considers itself accountable to the citizens. Corrupt governments and corrupt government officials prefer to keep as much information as possible from the populace. Citizens cannot hold governments and officials accountable without access to information.
Transparency and Freedom of Information is not the government caving in to bloggers after three days of criticism and releasing a document via the “back door”.
Transparency and Freedom of Information is first of all, an attitude by the government and all of us – that citizens have a right to government information unless there is a compelling reason to not release such information.
There are genuine secrets of state. There is information that will be released but not at the present time because negotiations are in progress. There are privacy concerns: the government has everyone’s personal information on file and they cannot release that willynilly to anyone who asks.
So there must be protocols and guidelines established, and the government has promised to do this through Freedom of Information legislation.
We understand all that.
But we also understand that a huge amount of information that the government has produced, gathered or has under its control is indisputably public information that should be available to all citizens – immediately and without question.
We chose to make a stand with the Speech from the Throne because…
1/ It is indisputably a public document.
2/ It outlines the government’s promises and intents to the ordinary citizen.
3/ Possession of the document by the public will allow individual citizens to make informed judgments about the performance of the government in the year ahead – compared to the government’s stated intents and promises.
4/ We wanted to communicate to the DLP government our expectations and standards… and the fact that the citizens of Barbados expect and demand that the DLP Government keep its promises respecting Integrity Legislation, Conflicts of Interest rules, Declaration of Assets requirements, Transparency, Freedom of Information laws and protocols and a host of other like concerns.
Here Is The First Online Posting Of The Barbados Throne Speech
As first posted on Barbados Free Press by our reader Civilsociety on February 15, 2008, 1:08pm GMT (which is February 15, 2008 9:08am Barbados time).
Once again, Civilsociety is anonymous and says this was received via email from the Barbados Government Information Service. No version has yet been posted on an official government website.
Mr. President and Members of the Senate;
Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly;
The representatives of the House of Assembly have been elected; and the members of the Senate have been selected.
You have met and have chosen your respective presiding officers.
Parliament is now fully constituted and so the new term of this great parliament can begin.
It is now my privilege and my duty to outline my Government’s programme for the second Parliamentary term of the 21st Century.