Parliament to pass right to Information Bill

ALBAN SUMANA BAGBINThe Right to Information (RTI) Bill introduced over a decade ago to ensure openness and transparency in governance is expected to be passed by Parliament by the end of this month.

The Majority Leader, Mr. Alban Bagbin, gave this assurance yesterday at the beginning of the third meeting of the last session of the current Parliament.

Mr. Bagbin was highlighting major bills, which would be considered after delivering the Business Statement for the week.

He indicated that the bill would be given priority during the meeting to ensure that it was passed before the dissolution of the current Parliament.

The RTI bill, which seeks to, among other things, give the public the right to access information from the government and other state institutions, has gone through various stages of approval in previous Parliaments, but has never gone beyond the Consideration Stage.

Pressure groups such as the African Public Policy Institute (APPI), the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the Coalition of Right to Information, Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Economy of Ghana Network (EGN), Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), among others, have all launched aggressive pressure on the legislature to pass the Bill, but to no avail.

The Majority Leader of the Fifth Parliament, Cletus Avoka, made similar promises on May 2012, but could not fulfill them until the dissolution of the legislature in January 2013.

The RTI bill is now at the consideration stage in the current Parliament. After successful consideration, it would go through the third reading and subsequently passed.

When passed, the RTI bill would give meaning to the right to information as enshrined, in the 1992 Constitution.

On the agenda for the third meeting, Mr. Bagbin said the meeting was expected to last for three weeks to give Members of Parliament enough time to campaign ahead of the election.

In another development, the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2016, was presented to the House, and referred to the Committee on Health for consideration and report.

The Fire Precaution (Premises) (Amendment) Regulations, 2016 was also presented.

An Export-Import Bank Credit Facility Agreement between the government and EXIM Bank of India for an amount of US$24.5 million for sugar cane and irrigation development in the Komenda area of the Central Region, was also presented and referred to the Committee on Finance.

The Energy Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Statistics Bill, 2016 went through the first reading in the House and referred to the Committee on Mines and Energy and Committee on Finance respectively.

The Ghana AIDS Commission Bill, 2015 was also taken through the consideration stage.

 

By Yaw Kyei  

 

 

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