Parliament has approved a motion which will delay the implementation of the Right to Information Bill (RTI) till January 2020 when it is passed.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Suhum, Mr Frederick Opare-Andah, had earlier on Wednesday proposed the amendment that the RTI Bill should come into force 12 months from the date on which the Act was assented to by the President.
The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, reviewed the proposal to read that "This Act shall come into force at the beginning of the next financial year."
But the House did not pass the RTI Bill into law because the NPP MP of Offinso South and Chairman of the Committee on Chairman the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Ben Abdallah Banda, told Parliament that the committee had received certain proposed amendments to the RTI Bill.
"If the need arises, there is the possibility of taking the Bill through a second consideration stage", he said.
Minority kicks against
Last Thursday, the Minority in Parliament kicked against a proposed transitional provision to delay the implementation of the Right to Information Bill (RTI) for a year when it is passed.
Mr 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) said 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.”
They said government institutions already had information officers and information systems to release information to the public.
The object of the RTI Bill is to provide for the operationalisation of the constitutional right 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.
It also seeks to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and to provide for related matters.
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 early last year (2018) by the Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joseph Dindiok.
The RTI Bill has passed through the first and second readings and the House is almost done with the consideration of proposed amendments to Bill after which it will be passed into law.