General News of Tuesday, 4 December 2018
Despite renewed pressure to see the Right to Information (RTI) Bill passed, the Ningo Prampram MP, Sam George, is under no illusion that his fellow MPs will rally to ensure its passage.
“I’ll tell you with all seriousness; the RTI Bill will not pass this year. Take it from me as someone who sits in Parliament,” he said on Citi TV’s The Point of View.
The only thing MPs appear to be going the extra mile for is passing the Appropriations Bill.
“From this week, we are going to begin to consider the estimates and come back and debate the estimates to pass the Appropriations Bill. From what I saw last year, that is the main focus of this Parliament,” Mr. George remarked.
But in contrast, “if you take the Order Paper, the RTI is always the last item,” the MP observed.
He recalled that President Nana Akufo-Addo had pledged to have the RTI Bill passed in 2017 but decried a lack of “hunger” from the Executive.
“If the President wants to give action to his words, he will instruct his Minister of Parliamentary affairs, who is the leader of government business in Parliament and Majority Leader to ensure that the time we use for statements; we spend close to an hour on statements and contributions here and there, and the time we use for other ancillary business in Parliament, the RTI Bill could [be passed in that time].”
About RTI Bill
The RTI Bill is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.
The Bill, as it has been drafted, is to also give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that, “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society.”
Successive governments have however failed to ensure its passage despite several assurances.
The RTI Media Coalition has emerged to push for the passage of the RTI Bill, and has been expressing concerns that some MPs are frustrating attempts to pass the Bill.
According to the collation, only 30 to 50 MPs are in the chamber anytime the RTI Bill is up for consideration.
They have cause for concern as the Adansi-Asokwa MP, K.T. Hammond has been adamant that he and fellow MPs had no plans to rush the Bill through Parliament.
Civil society organizations that are working with the RTI Media Coalition to push for the passing of the Bill include the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Africa Office, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), PenPlusBytes, SEND-Ghana, Civil Society Platform on SDGs, Alliance for Women in Media Africa (AWMA) and Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC).