NDC members of parliament against further delays in implementing RTI

The National Democratic Congress members of Parliament last Friday kicked against a proposed transitional provision to further delay the implementation of the Right to Information Bill (RTI) for a year when it is passed.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Suhum, Mr Frederick Opare-Andah, proposed the amendment that the RTI should come into force 12 months from the date on which the Act is assented to by the President. Mr Frederick Opare-Andah, 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 the Minority Members of Parliament (MPs) argued that, 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 further delay its implementation when it is passed.

They argued that, government institutions already had information officers and information system to release information to the public.

The minority members for Tamale Central, Alhaji Inusah Abdulai Fuseini; Wa West, Mr Joseph Yieleh-Chireh; and Bawku Central, Mr Mahama Ayariga, therefore, asked the House to reject the transitional provision.

Consequently, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye, ruled that the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Ms Gloria Akuffo, should inform Parliament, in writing or person, on Tuesday, February 5, 2019, as to whether the government was ready to implement an RTI law immediately or after a specified period.

The speaker said, the laws did not take retrospective effect but they could take futuristic effect.

Therefore, Prof. Oquaye said it was crucial to hear from the Executive to know whether it had the capacity to enforce an RTI law immediately or not.

The NPP MP of Offinso South constituency, who is also the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Ben Abdallah Banda, defended the proposal for the suspension of the implementation of the RTI law in an interview with the Daily Graphic.

He said government institutions needed time to engage qualified information officers and set up information offices to allow the public to access information easily.

Clearly, it can be seen that the government and members of the majority in Ghana’s parliament are not prepared to see the Right to Information Bill become a law in their administration.