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Business urges rethink on secrecy bill

Nov 22 2011 11:30
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Cape Town - Business Unity SA (Busa) has called for a public interest defence to be included in the protection of state information bill due to be voted on by the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

A statement issued on Tuesday morning by the business representative organisation said that it urged government, even at this late stage, to reconsider the "public interest dimension" in the draft law.

Busa said the need for such a clause was to allay fears that transparency and accountability in SA public affairs would be greatly weakened by its exclusion.

"As economic performance and good governance are closely bound up with each other, Busa supports the need for transparent government and supporting institutions," the statement said.

It also said that it was widely recognised that corruption was a serious threat to the achievement of SA's socioeconomic goals, and that the free flow of information was an essential part of combating it.

"The recent Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum listed corruption as one of the top four most problematic factors for doing business in SA," the Busa statement said.

Busa said that in view of the joint commitment by business and government to address the challenge of corruption - which ultimately undermines growth, employment and poverty alleviation - the organisation appealed to government to subject the new draft legislation to a "public interest" test.

On Monday Pick n Pay Stores [JSE:PIK] chairperson Gareth Ackerman issued a statement saying that the protection of state information bill was causing distress and a sense of crisis.


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