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RTI Bill to be passed when Parliament resumes

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah
Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah

Two-thirds of amendments required for the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law has been completed, the Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has stated.

He, therefore, expressed the optimism that when Parliament resumed sitting from January 29, 2019, efforts would be fast-tracked to bring the bill to a “historic conclusion.”

“Those of us in Parliament who are following the RTI Bill clause by clause are excited at the progress that it is making,” he stated when the national executive of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) paid a courtesy call on him at his office in Accra last Friday.

The delegation called on the Minister to congratulate him on his appointment as the substantive Minister of Information as well as invite him formally to the celebration of the GJA 70th anniversary this year.

The delegation was made up of the President of the GJA, Mr Roland Affail Monney and his Vice , Mrs Linda Asante Agyei, as well the General Secretary, Mr Edmund Kofi Yeboah.

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RTI Bill

The RTI Bill, as has been drafted, is to give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic society.”

The bill, which has been in Parliament for the past 22 years and is currently, still at the consideration stage, has suffered many setback in Parliament, causing its delayed passage.

The current Parliament, which is the sixth, made over 100 amendments to the bill, raising excitement of Ghanaians that it would be passed before the end of last year, but nothing was done.

Examine bill’s operationalisation

Mr Nkrumah said while efforts to end the conversation of the passage of the RTI Bill drew closer, there was the urgent need to critically examine the operationalisation of the bill.

“You can pass a bill, and we have had many bills, that in itself are deficient of some operationalisation rubrics and therefore you have difficulties in implementing.

“We have been trying to improve the current draft so that it is easier to implement,” he said, adding that “as the Ministry of Information, we have had some occasions to make amendment for the current draft.”

He pointed out that per the earlier RTI draft bill, an information officer was supposed to single-handedly receive all requests for and find all the information to make them available.

To reduce such huge burden and cumbersome process, he said, an amendment was effected in the draft bill to replace the information officer with an information unit to enhance the bill’s operationalisation.