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Energy Policy Likely To Fast-Track RTI Passage – Dr Ampofo   
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The oil and gas policy developed by National Democratic Congress (NDC), seeking to boost transparency in the energy field, holds prospects to accelerate the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) bill into law, an expert says.

The ruling NDC with three other political parties last week stated their positions on the proper management of the country’s oil and gas resources to ensure transparency in the sector and derive optimum benefit towards improving living conditions of Ghanaians.

Dr Kwame Ampofo, Chairman of the Energy Commission, who described the policy as one of its kind, told the Ghana News Agency that the NDC’s policy position sought to bridge gaps in the country’s oil and gas resources management.

The policy paper, he noted, centred on improving information access to increase transparency and competitive bidding of oil blocks as well as stripping off the enormous powers vested in the energy minister for allocating and awarding oil blocks.

He said it has fused into the party’s policy document comprehensive standards and elements of verification, connecting oil and gas resources management to the RTI bill.

“I think additional elements are the issues of verification, the stakeholders must be able to verify what the administrators of the sector [oil and gas] are doing, so we are going to ensure that certain legislations [RTI] are passed to enhance the areas of monitoring, evaluation and establishment of accountability,” he said.

“For the oil and gas sector to be properly managed, you need to have transparency, you need to have accountability and you have to have free access to information,” he said.

Dr Ampofo said though the passage of the RTI bill has taken a relatively long period to be passed into law, it was in the domain of Parliament and the Executive, but the policy [oil and gas] could push for the speedy passage of the bill to add to records of numerous laws passed.

“We are now going to actively push the passage of that bill because we want it to be in existence, make it more accessible to the public and those who want to find information to make it easier,” he said.

He said this is the first time we are actually compiling such a document and linking it up with RTI to the management of the oil and gas sector.

“We are not going to guarantee that within the shortest possible time that it will be passed but we are saying that now it is part of the NDC policy that in connection with the management of the oil and gas sector we need to pass this bill,” Dr Ampofo.

He said with the RTI, having become a core part of a policy position, would facilitate the easy passage of the bill, stressing that “once we have this paper, it is going to push for the passage of the bill.”

Ghana’s RTI has been lingering between the Executive and Parliament over a decade drawing 25 professional bodies including Ghana Bar Association, Polytechnic Teachers Association and Ghana Medical Association in 2014 to issue a communique urging the Attorney-General and Parliament to pass the bill into law without delay.
Source: GNA

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