Parliament suspends formation of quorum to expedite passage of RTI
Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, on Monday announced that Parliament has suspended all parts of the Standing Orders that required the formation of a quorum before discussing provisions in the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.
He said the move would ensure that the few members of Parliament, who were committed to the passage of the RTI Bill, would continue working on the Bill.
He said the decision was taken in consultation with the Speaker of Parliament since some members of the House did not turn up during discussions on the Bill; therefore it failed to form a quorum.
“Sometimes it is frustrating when the impression is created that Parliament is not willing to pass the Right to Information Law, and must emphasise that ever since I have been an MP, for the first time the rare powers of Parliament was used so that we could work on the Right to Information by suspending the Standing Orders with respect to quorum, ”Mr Osei Owusu added.
The First Deputy Speaker of the House said this at the closing ceremony of the Anti-Corruption Conference in Accra on Monday.
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Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia was the special guest of honour for the conference, which also marked the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and 15th anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Corruption.
Mr Osei Owusu, who chaired the function, observed that sometimes after intensive public campaign towards the passage of a particular legislation of interest, a few years after the enactment of the law, the public abandon it and nobody showed interest in its utilisation.
He cited the Local Governance Act, section 47, which required every resident of a district to ask for information from any of the district assemblies regarding the amount generated from internally-generated funds and how it was utilised, and the Secretary to the Assembly was obliged to provide that information.
The Legislator was not happy that most people were not exploring that law, which was passed two years ago, and underscored the need to decentralize the law and encourage people to take advantage of the existing legislations.
This is the strongest determination shown by Parliament to pass the Right to Information Bill (RTI) into law since the Bill was first placed on the floor of the House almost 20 years ago.
The passage of the RTI law would clearly defined information that could be released to the public by the various government agencies and those that are classified.
Mr Osei Owusu also expressed misgivings about indiscipline in the society that is retarding the country’s progress, noting that, every little space in urban centres had been occupied by people with the erection of unauthorized kiosks.
He said there was the need to educate children at Kindergarten with new values to grow up thinking differently.
“Our generation has been bad, we’re the ones destroying this meat, we have depleted the place with kiosks and overlooked all the building plans and we’re the ones being the highest in taking bribes and subverting the laws of this country.
“So we should be investing in changing the next generation so that we will return to the values we use to respect, ”he added.