Media fight for RTI bill misplaced priority – Sam George

The Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Sam George, has described as misplaced priority demands by the Media Coalition on the Right to Information bill for the immediate passage of the bill into law.

Mr George who is also a member of the Communications Committee of Parliament further noted that the passage of the bill into law will be of no consequence at all.

“I have been one of the loudest to say that the RTI is of no consequence. I think the media fraternity, you have completely…completely misplaced your priorities,” the former Presidential Staffer told Starr News’ Parliamentary correspondent Ibrahim Alhassan Tuesday.

He continued: “You are chasing an RTI bill, an RTI bill that will not fix any problem. Today, what will an RTI do? If we pass the RTI bill and it comes into law, all it means is that there is a designated officer in an institution who we have termed in the bill, an information officer.

“So, you send a request to an information officer, he has seven days to respond to your request. If you do the request and the information officer tells you I don’t have the information, what can you do?”

His comments follow the blocking of the members of the coalition by police in Parliament from entering the lawmaking chamber to protest the delay in the passage of the bill into law.

Clad in RTI t-shirts, the journalists were confronted by police officers manning the lawmaking chamber who demanded that they provide evidence of their permit to allow them on the premises.

“One of our colleagues the police accosted him. I was there and we had a confrontation and they say we should go to their police post here to sort out the issue,” Elvis Darko a member of the Steering Committee of the Coalition told Starr News.

The RTI bill was laid before Parliament by the Deputy Attorney General Joseph Kpemka Dindiok in March this year.

It has been 22 years since the first RTI bill was drafted under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA and 16 years since the Executive arm of government in 2002 drafted the first RTI bill.

The draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was never laid in Parliament until February 5, 2010.

The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) earlier this month accused the governing New Patriotic Party and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) of colluding against the Right to Information (RTI) bill.

“…If there’s one, or two or three things that the two main political parties [NPP and NDC] align, agree to, then, it is this RTI that they don’t want. I think that’s what it is,” the Deputy Director of the CDD Dr Franklin Oduro who is also the CDD’s Head of Research and Program said at a roundtable discussion on METOGU anti-corruption report in Accra.

“My own view is that these two parties have demonstrated that they don’t want the RTI. So there’s no blame game between them, the NDC and the NPP,” he added.

Source: Ghana/Starrfmonline.com/103.5FM

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