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General News of Thursday, 22 December 2016

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Parliament races against time to pass RTI bill, others

The Parliament of Ghana has come under self-inflicted pressure to sanction some key outstanding bills and agreement before it, 24 hours before it rises.

Members of Parliament (MPs) are expected to pass the Right to Information (RTI) bill, and give their approval to the power purchasing agreement between Karpower Ghana and Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

There are also other loan and tax waivers agreements awaiting approval.
At a sitting Thursday to consider the issues before them, MPs only sat for 15 minutes due to the absence of the requisite documentations to aid discussion.
Joy News’ Parliamentary Correspondent, Joseph Gakpo reports that sitting was adjourned for Parliament’s Finance Committee to make those documents available.

“The report [Karpower agreement] was not ready in the morning,” he said, adding the MPs are poised to clear their tables before the seventh Parliament is ushered in on January 7.

The minority in Parliament has said it would not take part in any discussion in the House if its members are not served with the handing-over notes from the outgoing National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said they have no reservations against the RTI bill and other businesses but want the Presidential Transition Act to be respected.

At a news conference in Accra, Thursday, he said, "Nobody is saying that government machinery should not run."

The Act, he said directs the outgoing government to provide a hand-over note which has to contain projections and activities that are key to the incoming government.

"The issue we raised was that give us the projections and we know whatever we do," he said, adding the Speaker, Edward Doe Adjaho has no authority to push through any bill without the necessary legal backing.

MP for Keta Constituency in the Volta Region, Richard Quarshiga said the failure of the legislature to pass the RTI bill would be fatal for the country.

"If indeed we have to really go through the whole process, then it would mean we have to stay throughout the night," he said adding it would be a herculean task to do.

The bill, the former NDC Propaganda Secretary said it is crucial for it to be ignored. "We are all very anxious to see it passed."

Joseph Gakpo has reported the new outline given to MPs when the House reconvened did not have the RTI bill on it. "It is not clear when exactly the bill would be discussed," he said.

He also said the implementing agreement for the Karpower deal has been deferred to the Friday because of the non-availability of the document covering the power purchasing agreement.