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Govt backs FOI Bill, says Raila

NAIROBI, September 23 – The contentious Freedom of Information Bill will be reintroduced in Parliament when the House reconvenes in October.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Tuesday said the Grand Coalition Government had no intention to derail efforts towards the enactment of the Bill and would marshal support for its passage.

“It has been reported that the government may not be keen on passing the Freedom of Information Act because it would blow the lid off questionable deals previously shrouded in secrecy.  That is not true,” the PM said at the opening of a media conference on ‘Broadcast Film and Convergence’ in Nairobi.

Mr Odinga said with the current dispensation where there was no Official Opposition party in Parliament, the media would be better facilitated to act as an effective check on the three arms of government.

His comments come as Kenya marks the Freedom of Information week.  The celebrations will culminate in the International Freedom of Information Day on Sunday, where lobbyists expect to push for the enactment of the Bill which lapsed in the previous session of Parliament.

Meanwhile, Information and Communication Minister Samuel Poghisio has announced that plans were underway for the formulation of a National Film Policy to provide the roadmap for the orderly development of the sector.

Speaking at the conference, Mr Poghisio said the international broadcast industry was making inroads in the African continent hence the need to develop the local capacity to expand the market share through development of partnerships and regional alliances in the film industry.

Capital Group Limited Chairman Chris Kirubi appealed to the government to partner with media stakeholders for the faster growth of the industry. Mr Kirubi said the government should consider scrapping taxes on broadcast equipment.

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He said no nation could progress when the government was not able to reach out to its people and radio stations and private television stations were enabling the government do that.

“The world is a global village and if we do not partner we will be left behind,” Mr Kirubi told participants attending the global conference.

Mr Kirubi also advised media houses to train their staff to have the capacity to adapt to a fast changing news gathering environment.

The conference that concludes on Thursday brings together media practitioners and owners from across the globe and offers a forum to deliberate on emerging challenges in the age of digital technology.

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