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General News of Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Source: citifmonline.com

Cabinet yet to hold talks on RTI bill – Hamid

Information Minister, Mustapha Hamid, has said that Cabinet is yet to hold discussions on the Right to Information (RTI) bill.

This is despite assurances from government that the bill will be passed soon. The bill was laid before Cabinet after the last Parliament failed to pass it, although the passage has been pending for over a decade.

As Ghana marks the Silver Jubilee of democratic rule under the fourth Republican Constitution, the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), has criticized successive governments over their failure to pass the bill. The Minister for Information, Mustapha Hamid, however told Citi News Cabinet will discuss the bill again, before taking it back to Parliament.

“Cabinet has proposed to have a special session to look at this particular bill because of the importance that it has before we then pass it and take it to Parliament…The bill is before Cabinet. It will be discussed. If you ask me when I will not be able to say, but I am sure pretty soon the Cabinet Secretary will get a day when the entire Cabinet will retreat in order to look at this bill properly and then when we have a final consensus on it, we can then take it to Parliament.”

The Right to Information Coalition Ghana, however feels government is only paying lip service and not doing enough to have the bill passed.

“In fact, when Parliament passes it and it has been sent to the presidency for him to assent it, I will believe it because at the beginning of last year [2017], the Minister of Information made a promise. The Vice President had said the President has also made comments on it, yet the bill is in Cabinet and has not yet moved. They can say whatever they want to say. Maybe the Coalition is cynical because we have heard it before. In the previous NPP administration there was a serious back and forth until the NDC came, and moved it to Parliament and even there, it stayed in Parliament for a very long time. It has now reverted back to Parliament. A whole one year, the bill has not moved from Cabinet to Parliament. It is just paying lip service to the whole thing, so for me, I will think that they are not serious about the passage of the bill.”

About RTI

The 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 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”.