The Access to Information Act was passed in the National Assembly on 15 September 2011 and was assented to by the President on 27 September 2011. However, it was not until May 2013 that the Commissioner of Information was appointed, thereby bringing the Act into operational effect. The Act sets out a practical regime of right to information for persons to secure access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government and public authorities. It extends the right of members of the public to access information by:(a) creating a general right of access to information in documentary form in the possession of public authorities limited only by exceptions and exemptions necessary for the protection of essential public interests and the private and business affairs of persons in respect of whom information is collected and held by public authorities; and
(b) making available to the public, information about the operations of public authorities and, in particular, ensuring that the authorisations, policies, rules and practices affecting members of the public in their dealings with public authorities are readily available to persons affected by those authorisations, policies, rules and practices.
The Act lists the following entities as having constituted public authorities:
(a) the National Assembly, inclusive of parliamentary committees subject to the Standing Orders;
(b) the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Income Tax Board of Review or a Court of summary jurisdiction. However, in relation to judicial functions, a court or the holder of a judicial office or other office pertaining to a court in his/her capacity as the holder of that office is not considered a public authority;
(c) the Cabinet;
(d) a Ministry or a department or division of a Ministry. However, the disciplined services in relation to their strategic or operational activities shall not be regarded as public authorities;
(e) Local Democratic Organs established under the Municipal and District Councils Act, Local Government Act, Local Democratic Organs Act;
(f) a Regional Health Authority established under the Regional Health Authorities Act 2005;
(g) a statutory body, responsibility for which is assigned to a Minister;
(h) a company incorporated under the laws of Guyana which is owned or controlled by the State;
(i) a Constitutional Commission or any other Commission established by law; or
(j) a body corporate or an unincorporated entity which: (i) exercises any function on behalf of the State; (ii) is established by or on behalf of the State; or (iii) is supported, directly or indirectly, by Government funds and over which Government exercises control.
The Act does not apply to the following:
(a) the President, provided that the functions of the Office of President (now Ministry of the Presidency) shall not be exempt for the purposes of this Act;
(b) a Commission of Inquiry established by the President, or information obtained or created in the course of an investigation, examination or audit conducted by or under the authority of the Auditor General, until the investigation or audit and all related proceedings, if any, are finally concluded; and
(c) a public authority or function of a public authority as the President may, by order subject to negative resolution of the National Assembly, determine.