RTI Bill To Be Passed In 2017

Mustapha Hamid, Minister of information

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the touted Right to Information (RTI) Bill would be passed this year.

The Minister of information, Mustapha Hamid made the announcement in Ho, the Volta regional capital when he briefed the press on some activities of government and his ministry in particular.

He was in the region with his deputies and director of communications at the Presidency.

Mr Hamid explained that the Attorney General was currently looking at the bill to make some amendments before laying it before parliament for the necessary processes to proceed.

He said the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) was committed to the bill and respects the rights of citizens and the media to get accurate and prompt information from government and its assigns across the country.

He stressed that “Insha Allah, the Bill will be passed before the year ends.”

Empowering State-Owned Media

Mr. Hamid also noted that his Ministry, which oversees the operations of state-owned media houses, was putting in place measures to make state-owned media houses financially and operationally independent and viable.

He explained that the current situation where state-owned media houses like the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) depend heavily on government to survive was not appropriate.

He said such level of dependence makes the state broadcaster susceptible to government control and abuse at the expense of the greater good of the state.

To this end, he said the Ministry was in talks with key stakeholders to come up with a comprehensive strategy to make GBC fully independent, saying “by this I mean, financially and operationally independent without anyone dictating to them.”

He said, “We are going to have a strategy to ensure every television set in the country is licenced and payments made accordingly.”

The Minister said Ghana News Agency (GNA) for some reasons has not been able to fully reach its potential due to the many changes in the media landscape in Ghana.

He said the Ministry, in consultation with key stakeholders, would look at the mandate of the GNA which was established in 1956.

“We would draft a whole new programme and revise the law that establishes the agency. This and many other strategies will be put in place to make GNA a 21st Century media house that can stand the test of time.

Mr. Hamid also commended private media houses in the country for their immense contributions to deepening democracy, development and governance over the years.

He said his Ministry also has plans to partner with private media houses in several ways to ensure effective dissemination of information, national development and development of media.

“The NPP government believes in the independence of the media, be it state or private, and will pursue policies and programmes that will make the media in Ghana responsible and independent.”

From Fred Duodu, Ho ([email protected])