The Parliament of Ghana has passed the Right to Information Bill which now awaits the Presidential assent to be fully recognized as law.
The Bill which was passed after its third reading at 8:30pm Tuesday, March 26, after two decades of waiting.
The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, moved the motion for third reading and seconded by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale Central and Ranking Member on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini.
The purpose of the RTI law will provide for the operationalisation of the constitutional right to information held by the public and some private institutions, subject to exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of public interest in a democratic society.
It also seeks to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and to provide for related matters.
The RTI Bill was first drafted in 1999, reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was only presented to Parliament in 2010. It was brought back to the Sixth Parliament but could not be passed till the expiration of that Parliament on January 6, 2016.
Momentum, however, to get the bill passed gathered in 2017 following the formation of the Media Coalition on RTI and other bodies which have in the past 11 months, piled pressure on Parliament to pass it.
Some members of Parliament had feared that the passage of the Bill will rob government of confidential information.
Adansi Asokwa MP, K.T. Hammond, acknowledged that although its passage will be useful to journalists, it may not necessarily augur well for governance in the country.
“You need peace of mind to run a government. You need to concentrate and if you have a bill and before the ink dries on it, somebody is asking you to ‘bring this document’…to the extent that we are talking about communication between the president, the vice president and cabinet, potentially, there will be no secret in government,” he said.
But it appears the Speaker of Parliament and government have kept to their assurances of getting the Bill passed.
The law will, however, be implemented at the beginning of 2020.
By : Oheneba Kwabena Yeboah / Starrtvonline.com / Ghana