The amendment to the Act, called Clause 7, formed part of an omnibus bill called The Miscellaneous Provisions (Tax Amnesty, Pensions, Freedom of Information, National Insurance, Central Bank and Non-Profit Organisations) Bill, 2019. The initial draft of the Clause not only extended the time for state agencies to respond to requests from 30 days to 90, but also proposed the addition of another 90 days in which the attorney general could either endorse or overrule the decision to deny the request.
In practice, the turnaround time for responses to FOIA requests was often longer than the prescribed period, and some state bodies have refused to release information, citing confidentiality. The government would often find itself embroiled in lawsuits when FOIA requests were denied, with some litigants taking their cases all the way to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Trinidad and Tobago’s highest appellate court.
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