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Govt starts preparing road map for RTI implementation

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
 Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah speaking at the news conference in Accra yesterday
Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah speaking at the news conference in Accra yesterday

The government is preparing a road map for the implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill which is expected to be passed in Parliament this week, the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has stated.

He said the implementation of the law would require the establishment of information units in all public offices, the recruitment and training of information officers to man those units, the establishment of the RTI Commission and the completion of various administrative protocols before the start of the next fiscal year.

At a news conference in Accra yesterday, Mr Nkrumah said the preparatory work was necessary to ensure that there would, indeed, be the infrastructure that could deliver on the RTI requests filed under the new law.

“The new law will be a major addition to the credentials 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,” he said.

Parliament

Last Friday, Parliament gave an indication that it would pass the RTI Bill into law on March 26, 2019, after about two decades of waiting.

That followed the conclusion of the consideration of the bill by the House at its sitting on March 22, 2019.

The last amendment to the RTI Bill, which was proposed by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Okaikoi Central, Mr Patrick Yaw Boamah, changed the implementation ministry of the bill from the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice to the Ministry of Information.

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After the adoption of the amendment, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the RTI Bill would be read the third time and passed next Tuesday.

Background

The RTI Bill is to provide for the operationalisation of the constitutional right to information held by the public and some private institutions, subject to exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of public interest in a democratic society.

It also seeks to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and provide for related matters.

Presidential assent

Mr Nkrumah told the media that soon after the passage of the RTI Bill, the House would forward the legislation to the President for his assent.

“The Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic has, in good time, completed the consideration stage of the RTI Bill after several policy changes and amendments and months of rigorous debate on the floor of the house,” he said.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mrs Delese Darko, and the Executive Director of the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC), Mrs May Obiri Yeboah, took advantage of the conference to outline what their outfits were doing to promote made-in-Ghana products and reduce road carnage, respectively.

Condolences

The minister expressed the condolence of the government to the victims and families of those who were affected by the two gory accidents at Amoma Nkwanta in the Bono East Region and Ekumfi Dunkwa in the Central Region last Friday that claimed more than 60 lives.

He referred to the President’s charge to the Police Council to speedily implement the recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee set up last year to propose ways to deal with carnage on the roads.

As a way of supporting the victims of the various accidents, he said, the government had undertaken to underwrite the treatment costs of the injured.

Promoting local products

Touching on made-in-Ghana products, Mr Nkrumah said the government, through the FDA, had begun a campaign to encourage supermarkets and foreign retail shops in the country to promote locally produced goods under a campaign dubbed: “Made in Ghana Display”.

Consequently, he said, the FDA had been engaging major supermarkets and retail outlets to allocate specific sections in their supermarkets and shops for made-in-Ghana products.

“This is aimed at enhancing easy access to local products even in these shops and adding to efforts to deepen the market for made-in-Ghana products,” he explained.

In response to the initiative, he said, a number of the shopping outlets had already begun dedicating prime shelves to Ghanaian manufactured products.

Background

Parliament has set Tuesday, March 26, 2019, as the date to pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill which has been in the House for about 20 years.

The RTI Bill was first drafted in 1999, reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was only presented to Parliament in 2010.

It was brought back to the Sixth Parliament but could not be passed till the expiration of that Parliament on January 6, 2016.

After months of waiting, the bill was laid in Parliament in early 2018 by a Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joseph Dindiok.