General News of Friday, 23 March 2018
It would appear the renewed advocacy for the laying and passage of the Right To Information Bill in the past few weeks has borne little fruit as the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, has told Citi News it is unlikely the Bill will be laid in Parliament before it rises later today [Friday].
He said the process and period for gazetting will keep the RTI Bill from being laid before the House takes a break for the Easter period.
The Majority Leader added that the Bill will also not be considered under a certificate of urgency to ensure its passage before the recess.
“Assuming it is sent for gazetting [today], we will have to wait for the stipulated time to mature before it comes to Parliament which is why if we have to wait for that time, Parliament would have recessed.”
“…but then, as you do know, this is not a Bill that can be considered under a certificate of urgency and be completed in one day,” Mr. Mensah-Bonsu stated.
Per the constitution, any Order, Rule or Regulation made by a person or authority under a power conferred by this Constitution must be published in the Gazette on the day it is laid before Parliament.
Gazetting essentially involves the official publicising of law or other material by the state in its government gazette.
Mr. Mensah-Bonsu, back in November 2017 predicted that Parliament would finish work on the Bill by the second meeting of the next session of the House which translates to July 2018.
A revised version of the RTI Bill was only approved by Cabinet and forwarded to Parliament at least on Monday, according to Vice President Bawumia.
Calls for Nana Addo’s intervention
Mr. Mensah-Bonsu’s remarks will not sit well with the Right To Information Coalition and the RTI Action Campaign Group.
The groups are demanding that President Akufo-Addo cause the laying of the RTI Bill before Parliament’s recces.
The President had earlier promised to ensure the passage of the Bill before the end of this Sitting of the House.
The Coalition, on the final day of its 10-day Campaign for the passage of the Bill insists the Executive must at least lay the Bill today.
Background of RTI Bill
The RTI Bill, which is expected to make information easily accessible by the media and Ghanaians to boost the fight against corruption, has been in legislation for well over 17 years now because successive governments have failed to implement it despite several assurances.
Efforts by several advocacy groups to put pressure on the duty bearers to have the Bill passed have also not yielded any positive results.
At his last address to Parliament, outgoing President John Mahama begged Parliament to pass the bill at the last minute but his call was ignored.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government promised to pass the Bill when it assumed power in 2017 but this has bee yet to be realised fueling observer scepticism.
Observers have criticized successive governments for lacking the political will to pass the Bill.