General News of Friday, 16 March 2018
Deputy Speaker of Parliament says the House is very much committed to passing the Right to Information Bill contrary to claims it is dragging its feet.
Joe Osei Owusu says Parliament works through procedures and will work with the speed of light to have it passed when the bill returns to the House.
For over a decade the law that will empower citizens and help in the fight against corruption has been gathering dust on the shelves of Parliament.
If passed into law, the RTI Act will enable citizens to acquire information from government agencies, even if it will require a compulsion of law.
But the Bill is yet to be passed into law despite years of verbal commitment and assurances by political leaders.
The latest of such assurances was the one given by president Nana Akufo-Addo during the Independence Day celebration on March 6.
“There is, however, one piece of the anti-corruption framework that is yet to be put in place- the Right to Information Bill. It will increase transparency and add another critical weapon to the armoury in the fight against corruption. After many years of hesitation we intend to bring the Bill again to Parliament and work to pass it into law before the end of this meeting of Parliament,” the president said.
The RTI Coalition, the group mounting pressure on successive governments for the passage of the bill has given the government a 10-day ultimatum to have the bill brought before Parliament before it goes into recess on March 23.
A spokesperson for the Coalition Samson Lardy Anyenini told Joy News the Bill was almost complete before the 6th Parliament of the 4th Republic rose but because of petty politicking, the Bill never found expression in law.
“The truth of the matter was that the Minority NPP then was seeking and hoping that it will win the election and take the pride and praise for passing it. The NDC who had promised over the time and unfortunately didn’t mean it but because there was pressure at the election, felt it was now time to run it through the process, they (NPP) stopped them. So they [NPP now in government] have no option than to pass it.”
He said the representation by the RTI campaign group over the period should be well noted by the government and hope the president will keep his word.
He is convinced the RTI Bill should have been passed even before Office of the Special Prosecution law was passed.
“Today we are still counting down and we have eight days,” he said, adding this is the bill that belongs to citizens who need to be empowered in the fight against corruption.
The Deputy Speaker Joe Osei Owusu believes a lot of the work has been done already in the last Parliament, hinting it will not take time to have the bill passed into law when it is brought before the house.
It is not clear yet when the government will bring the Bill before the House.