‘Right to information law vital to open governance’

Omani Boamah Minister of Communications (1)A RESEARCH conducted by Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) has identified the “absence of the Right to Information Law” as a major hindrance to transparent or open governance in the country.

Besides, the delay by Parliament to pass the Right to Information Bill, laid before it for the past three years, is having a rippling effect on the citizenry.

The research provides an assessment of Ghana’s performance in transparency, participation and control, as well as oversight, which are key in open governance.

Mr. Linus Atarah, a Project Co-ordinator, disclosed these in Accra at a day’s workshop to validate a Draft Report on “Open Governance Scorecard Project” (OG-.P).

“Ghana’s performance in transparency is the weakest among the three pillars:- Transparency, Participation, Control and Oversight – which the survey focused on. This stems largely from the lack of freedom of information legislation,” he said.

“The 1992 Constitution provides free access to information to all citizens but the constitutional guarantee has not yet been secured,” Mr. Atarah added, and wondered what might have contributed to the delay in the passage of the Bill.

Also included in the findings, is Ghana’s performance in both in-law and in-practice indicators to determine how effective the existing laws are applied or enforced in the country.

Ghana, according to Mr. Atarah, had the potential of running a transparent or open governance but until the impediments inhibiting accountability were removed, cynicism would continue to prevail.

He, however, suggested that all information generated by the MDAs should be published and made public (proactive publication) for people to access.

The Acting Programmes Manageress of GII, Mrs. Mary Awelana Addah, said the open governance project initiated by Transparency International since 2013, was being implemented in four of its national chapters, namely Ghana, Indonesia, Peru and Ukraine.

She said Ghana had pledged to institute measures that would ensure legal reforms, transparency and good governance when it signed up to the Global Open Government Partnership Initiative (OGPI) in 2011, but sadly enough, Cabinet had not yet approved the government’s National Open Government Action Plan.

“Failing to approve the document means it will not gain recognition as a national document, as such current and future governments will have no obligation to implement whatever legal and institutional reforms needed to advance towards more openness in the country,” she said.

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