Gov’t appoints new Information Commissioner

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has recommended the appointment of retired educator Joycelyn Palmer as the country’s new Information Commissioner, a post mandated by the 2004 Freedom of Information Act.

The resolution for the appointment was endorsed by the House of Representatives on Friday and will head to the Senate for passage before it is forwarded to Governor General Sir Rodney Williams for final approval.

Palmer, a resident of the Villa area, will assume the position made vacant last year by former commissioner Alister Thomas who served for two terms from 2012 to 2018.

Palmer’s terms of employment were also approved by the Lower House and – according to the Prime Minister – will be the same as that of the previous Information Commissioner.

Browne provided details of her salary and other entitlements when he tabled the resolution.

“The appointment shall be for a period of three years, commencing from January 1st 2019 and ending on December 31st 2021. Salary of $54,000 EC per annum payable monthly of a rate of $4,500.00; a transportation allowance of $7,752 per year, payable monthly at a rate of $646; a gratuity of 12 ½ percent of the aggregate amount of basic salary paid to the Commissioner during the term of her appointment; and a vacation leave of 27 working days per annum,” Browne said.

The new Information Commissioner will also be entitled to a paid sick leave of a maximum of 30 calendar days during any 12-month period, and free local telephone calls.

Palmer is a graduate of the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom and earned a first degree from that institution. She also holds a certificate in Legal Education from the University of the West Indies.

“She has been a teacher for over 40 years – more specifically, a math teacher. She comes qualified, she has the integrity to serve in this capacity and, if I had to compare her to the previous office holder, she is not a political activist,” Browne said.

The appointment of an Information Commissioner is in keeping with the Freedom of Information Act of 2004.  

The Freedom of Information – part of a trilogy of legislation passed by the United Progressive Party (UPP) government soon after it took office in 2004 – was designed to usher a system of open and transparent government in Antigua and Barbuda.

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