Spio-Garbrah Makes A Case For RTI

Dr. Ekwow Spio-GarbrahA Former presidential aspirant, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah wants to know whether the Right to Information Bill must be restricted to only State institutions.

The former Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Orga-nisation (CTO), now the president of the Dominion University College (DUC) wonders whether or not the bill should be extended to cover non-state institutions.

He argued that much as the Right To Information (RTI) Bill should enable citizens to keep a spotlight on public officials, a good question arose as to whether citizens’ right to information should not cover non-state institutions including private corporations and companies.

Dr. Spio-Garbrah thought the main challenge was that some members of the public were hoping to gain access to information that would expose scandals and corruption in government.

The bill, which has been held up at the Cabinet level for a long time, was recently approved and forwarded to Parliament for scrutiny and passage. Many civil society organisations have clamoured for the bill’s passage but to no avail.

Dr. Spio-Garbrah, who was a moderator at a conference on “Access to Information in the Public Service” during the African Union Public Service Day held in Accra recently said although the Right to Information bill will enable Ghanaians to access a wide range of information on government operations, there are already many existing mechanisms and sources through which Ghanaians can be well informed about what the government is doing.

The former Communications Minister said access to information should not be too difficult in Ghana especially with the availability of more than 200 FM radio stations, scores of daily newspapers and an excess of 10 TV stations as well as cable and satellite networks which already churn out a huge amount of information on government operations and activities which interested citizens can consume.

The DUC President remarked that through the Ghana e-Gov project, many government services are also available online through various websites.

According to him, citizens could also gather a lot of information about the government’s operations and activities through the Parliamentary hansards and the government’s publishing office as well as many publications and reports on government operations.
He noted that the recently started daily press briefing at the Flagstaff House is another avenue for access to a lot of information from the Government.

Dr. Spio-Garbrah commended the development and said it was a good build-up on “Post-Cabinet Briefings” as well as the “Meet the Press” series for Ministers.

The panel featured Ghana’s Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, as the keynote speaker.
The other members were the Acting Minister of State for Administrative Development of Egypt, Dr. Ahmed S. Elrafie and the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Dr. Aisha L. Abdullahi.

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