Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, has lauded some parliamentarians for their significant roles leading to the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law on Tuesday March 27,2019.
In a word of commendation to members of parliament after the passage of the RTI Bill, the Majority leader singled out Bernard Ahiafor, MP Akatsi South, Ben Abdallah Banda, MP Offinso South and Chairman of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Matthew Nyindam,MP Kpandai and First Deputy Majority Whip, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, MP South Dayi, Inusah Fuesini, MP Tamale Central and Ranking member on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Hon Joseph Yiele Chiere, MP Wa West.
Other MPs that were equally acknowledged were, Frederick Opare Ansah, MP Suhum,Yaw Buabeng Asamoah, MP Adentan, Dr Dominic Ayine, MP Bolgatanga East, Shaibu Mahama, MP Daboya/Mankarigu as well as his colleague Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, for their meticulous contributions and comments that led to successful passages of the RTI Bill.
He also acknowledged the Clerk’s of parliament and the Parliamentary Press Corp for their contributions.
The RTI law provides for the operationalisation of the constitutional right of Ghanaians to information held by public and some private institutions, subject to exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of public interest in a democratic society.
According to the Majority Leader, the law would also foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and to provide for related matters but cautioned that, it may not be the absolute panacea to all issues of good governance.
Hon Ben Abdalah Banda
The RTI Bill was first drafted in 1999, reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was only presented to Parliament in 2010.
The Bill was brought back to the Sixth Parliament but could not be passed till the expiration of that Parliament on January 6, 2016.
It was again relayed before Parliament in March last year by the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice Joseph Kpemka Dindiok, after the previous parliament at the last minutes failed to pass it into law.
The much-anticipated bill was to be passed into law on Friday 22 March but was removed from the House’s order paper or programme line on Thursday 21 March by the Speaker of Parliament Prof Mike Oquaye after demands by Civil Society Organisations for their proposals to be incorporated into the bill before it is passed.
In the meantime, the government said on Sunday 24 March that it has commenced preparatory work ahead of the passage of the bill.
Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told Journalists the bill in its current form requires the establishment of Information Units in all public offices, recruitment and training of information officers to man these units, the establishment of the RTI commission and the completion of various administrative protocols before the commencement of the next fiscal year.
“These are necessary to ensure that there will indeed be the infrastructure that can deliver on the RTI requests filed under this new law,” he said.
He said the new law will be a major addition to the credential of Ghana as a strong democracy and President Akufo-Addo who for many years has championed the cause of enhancing the frontiers of human rights.
Hon Inusah Fuseini
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrissu said the passage of this Bill is a sign of commitment from both legislative side of the august House to the development of democracy and transparent governance in the country.
Hon Bernard Ahiafor, MP for Akatsi South and his colleagues of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, had done a good job by scrutinizing the bill till it was unanimously passed into law.
The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, moved the motion for third reading and seconded by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central and Ranking Member on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini
“I am most excited about the provisions in this Bill regarding the right to information. This will in a way provide the citizenry the opportunity to ask for information from public institutions whenever they so wish and for good reason,” Mr Ahiafor told THE REPUBLIC
“This is such a positive development at a time when Ghana is moving into an era of information. The positive leadership of both the Majority and theMinority on the issue is quite commendable,”he added.
The bill will ensure that citizens can freely demand for information without interference.
It is recalled that, Parliament had earlier approved a motion which would delay the implementation of the RTI law till the next financial year in January, 2020.
The MP for Suhum, Mr Frederick Opare-Andah, had earlier proposed the amendment that the RTI Bill should come into force 12 months from the date on which the Act is assented to by the President.
He claimed that public institutions needed to be given time to engage information officers and establish information offices to facilitate the release of information to the public.
But Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, reviewed the proposal to read that “This Act shall come into force at the beginning of the next financial year.”
The Minority in Parliament kicked against the proposed transitional provision to delay the implementation of the Right to RTI law for a year.
The Minority MPs said the the media, civil society organisations and many Ghanaians had waited for the passage and implementation of the RTI for years, and so it would be wrong to delay its implementation when it is passed.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Nyaaba