The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications, which has been tasked to scrutinize and fine-tune the new Right To Information (RTI) bill, has asked the public to send memoranda and contributions in order to build consensus and enhance its work.
The new bill was laid in parliament on Friday, March 23, 2018 – the same day the house rose for the Easter holidays, to reconvene on May 15. The reintroduction of the bill is in fulfillment of the promise by President Akufo-Addo that his New Patriotic Party (NPP) government would be more accountable and transparent.
A release dated April 4, 2018 and signed by Acting Director of the Public Affairs Department of Parliament, Kate Addo, indicated that the RTI bill was referred to the joint committee during the first meeting of the second session of the house.
The memoranda and contributions expected from the public to enrich the new bill are to be addressed to the joint committee and should reach parliament not later than Friday, April 13, 2018 via [email protected].
The Right to Information bill seeks to give right and access to official information held by public institutions and private entities which perform public functions with public funds. The bill was introduced to parliament in 1999 under former President Jerry John Rawlings. The draft bill was reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
President Nana Akufo-Addo promised at the 61st independence anniversary on March 6 at the Black Star Square that his government was very determined to re-introduce the bill before parliament would rise on Friday, March 23. Truly, it was re-introduced in parliament on the last day of the first meeting of the second session of the seventh parliament, which ended on Friday, March 23.
Vice President Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia also gave indication of the re-introduction of the bill before parliament rose for the Easter break when he announced that cabinet had approved the RTI bill and was ready to be laid in parliament.
After the laying of the bill by the deputy Attorney-General, Joseph Dindiok Kpemka, the Speaker, Prof Mike Oquaye, then referred it to the joint Committee of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications for scrutiny and report to the plenary for further consideration.
In his closing remarks, the speaker said parliament would attach a lot of importance to the passage of the bill – which will ensure transparency and accountability in government and also help the work of the Special Prosecutor.
He said that parliament would work expeditiously on the new bill as soon as it reconvenes in May for it to be passed.
The new RTI will have some amendments to the old one, which the last parliament failed to pass.
Prof. Mike Oquaye had proposed that the new bill be made to cover private companies that work on behalf of the state.
Before it was laid, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, had questioned the process of the laying, stressing that it had some procedural breaches which he noted, would not help the image of the house.
According to him, the bill was supposed to be gazetted at the Assembly Press before being sent to parliament for laying, but that was not done.
“The gazetting has not been done so it is a complete breach of the constitution,” he noted.
The majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, disagreed with counterpart’s argument, saying a bill does not necessarily need to be gazetted before it is laid in the house.
He said the Legal and Constitutional Affairs and the Communications Committees have the opportunity to work on the gazetting process at the committee level before the plenary considers it during the second meeting of the second session.
Source: Daily Guide
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