General News of Friday, 2 November 2018
The government has renewed its commitment to the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law.
According to Deputy Attorney General, Joseph Kpemka, government as the body sponsoring the bill will do all it takes to get the bill passed before the parliament rises for its December break.
There has been fresh pressure from the media, and other civil society groups pushing to get the bill passed.
This follows the failure of successive governments to pass the about 18-year-old bill that will increase access to public information by the citizenry.
Speaking to Citi News, Joseph Kpemka said the bill will be passed despite opposition even from some members of parliament.
“The level of commitment on the part of the New Patriotic Party to get this thing (RTI Bill) through is without doubt. We will ensure that we will push it with all the vigour at our disposal to ensure that, it is passed within the shortest possible time.”
“Already, the leader of the house has announced that by November 15 when the budget will be read, we will do our very best to see if we can pass it into law. If we are unable to finish it, then immediately we finish with the budget, we would have to complete it. It is an unwavering determination to put this thing behind us to ensure that the long-cherished dreams of many Ghanaians who think that this is one of the biggest things we can further do to promote our democracy, will come to fruition. We will not relent on our efforts”, he noted.
We won’t rush passage of RTI Bill – K.T. Hammond
Meanwhile, NPP MP for Adansi-Asokwa, K.T. Hammond, who’s not so keen about the passage of the bill, has said he and some of his fellow MPs are very worried because of the potential pitfalls the Right to Information (RTI) Bill in its current form presents.
“I am very worried. It has potential banana skins and we have got to look at it pretty carefully and some of us are petrified. I am very uncomfortable,” the MP told Citi News.
He said he was particularly concerned with clause 17 of the Bill, which he described as “the most dangerous clause of all the clauses.”
The clause 17 allows the release of exempt information if the information being requested will reveal evidence of failure to comply with the law, the risk to public safety, a miscarriage of justice, an abuse of authority or deregulation of official functions.
Media coalition on RTI denied entry to parliament
Recently, some members of Ghana’s media fraternity formed a coalition to push for the passage of the Bill.
Known as the Media Coalition on RTI, the group said it is determined to embark on a series of activities, including demonstrations, to force the passage of the Bill into law.
The coalition planned to protest in Parliament on Tuesday but was denied entry into Parliament.
Other observers have accused successive governments of paying lip service to ensure the passage of the Bill.
The most recent assurance came from the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, who expressed confidence in the ability of the house to pass Bill in the final session of 2018.