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General News of Friday, 29 July 2016


Parliament has lost interest in RTI Bill – Coalition alleges

File photo: Parliament of Ghana File photo: Parliament of Ghana

The Coalition on the Right to Information is worried about the slow pace at which Parliament is considering the Right To Information Bill.

According to group, they were thrilled at the speed with which the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho led the legislature to start considering the Bill, believing that momentum and spirit would be sustained until final passage of the Bill into an Act.

However, they are saddened that Parliament has lost steam and as a result relegated the RTI Bill to the background to consider other Bills of interest.

The Speaker, the group alleged “appears to have lost interest in the RTI Bill” having promised the public that he would prioritized it “in this sitting”.

In the view of the group, the Speaker was “only pretending to be interested in pushing Parliament to consider the Bill in the interest of the people”, noting that “the two weeks daily discussion was only to enable Ghana show progress on the Bill at the UN session in Geneva where Ghana was expected to report on the Bill”.

“So, they did that to be able to report and not in the interest of the people or not because anybody was committed”, said the Coalition at a press conference in Accra on Thursday.

They had met to interact with journalists to question President John Mahama and Parliament whether they are fully committed in passing the RTI Bill.

In a statement read by the co-Chair of the Coalition to Right To Information, Vitus Azeem, the group argued that both Executive and the Legislature have demonstrated that the passage of the RTI Bill into an Act is not a priority in their scheme of things, stressing that there are cost implications for their actions.

“The Coalition would like His Excellency to note that the failure to pass the RTI Bill this year, 2016, will mean firstly, that the NDC Government has again lied not only to Ghanaians but to the international community about its commitment to the passage of the RTI Bill. Secondly, it would that Ghana has failed for the second time to fulfill her obligations under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative as well as the country’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Thirdly, the failure to pass the RTI Bill this year will mean that the NDC government cannot be trusted and that government’s proclaimed commitments to the fight against corruption are mere words without action”, the statement in part read.

They added “We would also like our Parliamentarians to tell us whose interest they are actually serving. When loans are brought to Parliament, we see Parliamentarians turn out en-mass to endorse those loans so that government can borrow more money and put the country in more debt however, the law that will give them the right information to enable them as well as the citizenry effectively scrutinize these loans and ensure that they are properly utilized has the support of only a handful of MPs. What excuse will our MPs give for not passing the RTI Bill in this sitting?”

Ghana, the group added, will lose credibility on the international platforms due to several promises made on the several of such platforms by the government.

That aside, the West African nation could be suspended from the OGP partnership.

To save Ghana from sanctions, the group wants the Executive to engage Parliament to, as a matter of urgency, pass the Right to Infor mation Bill with the amendments before the 6th Parliament lapses in January 2017.

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