Parliament to push passage of RTI to next sitting

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Parliament has set aside the first two weeks of its next meeting to pass the Right to Information Bill into Law should it fail to do so before it rises on Saturday 22 December.

Speaking at a dialogue between the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Civil Society, Majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said the House will try its best within the constraints of considering appropriations to pass the bill before it rises.

But if that fails, the House will dedicate the first two weeks of the next meeting which begins in January to work on finalizing the bill, the Majority leader who’s also the Parliamentary Affairs Minister added.

“After the presentation of the budget and economic policy of the government and the subsequent consideration of the estimates of the various arms, organs and bodies of government as well as all the MMDAs, there’s truly scant space for other businesses,” he said.

“We shall nonetheless strive to pass the RTI before we end this session on Saturday 22nd of December. Failing which I would assure that we shall then use the first two weeks of the next meeting to have the bill passed,” he added.

The RTI bill was laid before Parliament by the Deputy Attorney General Joseph Kpemka Dindiok in March this year and it has been 22 years since the first RTI bill was drafted under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA and 16 years since the Executive arm of government in 2002 drafted the first RTI bill.

The draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was never laid in Parliament until February 5, 2010.

Parliament is under intense pressure by a pro-RTI group, the Media Coalition on Right to Information to pass the RTI bill. The Coalition was recently barred from entering the law-making chamber by police guards to press home their demand for the passage of the bill into law.

Some Members of Parliament warned bill when passed will render the country ungovernable.

“It is a recipe for disaster. It is a recipe for bad governance,” Member of Parliament for Asokwa, KT Hammond told Starr News in October.

“Ministers can’t operate, governments cannot proceed effectively, governance cannot take place meaningfully,” he added.

Also, the Member of Parliament Ningo Prampram Sam George described as a misplaced priority the demands of the Coalition for the bill to be passed into law.

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) believes that the delay in passing the bill is deliberate.

According to its, Deputy Director Dr Franklin Oduro “…If there’s one, or two or three things that the two main political parties [NPP and NDC] align agree to, then, it is this RTI that they don’t want.”

“I think that’s what it is,” Dr Oduro who is also the CDD’s Head of Research and Program said at a roundtable discussion on METOGU anti-corruption report in Accra recently.

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