Parliament defers passage of RTI Bill

Professor Mike Oquaye,Speaker of Parliament.

Professor Mike Oquaye,Speaker of Parliament.

PARLIAMENT has deferred the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law to Tuesday February 5, 2019 as it awaits the final input from the Attorney General.

The House on Wednesday finished the consideration of the bill but could not pass it into law because a new clause had been proposed.

Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah, NPP member for Suhum, the sponsor of the proposed clause wants the implementation of the law to take effect 12 months after its passage.

In the Transitional Provision, Mr Opare-Ansah proposed that “the provisions of section 18 and other consequential sections shall come into force 12 months from the date on which this Act is assented to by the President.”

When the rules of the House were relaxed for the consideration of his proposal, Mr Opare-Ansah, however, was not in the House to defend his proposed amendment.

But the Ranking Member on the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, opposing the provision said the House does not have the power to determine on its own when the law comes into effect.

According to the Tamale Central NDC MP, the executive sponsored the bill to the House and should be the one to make that proposal.

The Speaker of the House, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, said though the             House had the power to defer the implementation of any law it has enacted, it was only proper for the executive to indicate its preparedness for the implementation of same.

In the view of Speaker Oquaye, deferring the implementation of the yet-to-be-passed RTI law until 12 months would not serve the citizenry well, considering the huge public interest it has attracted over the years.

He, however, acknowledged the need for the executive to be ready to implement the law immediately or not for which it must make such application to Parliament for same to be included in a Transition Provision.

In that ruling, the Speaker gave the Attorney General up to Tuesday to indicate to the House either in writing or in person its capacity to immediately implement the bill if passed “so that we conclude on this matter.”

The House came under public pressure, especially from the media and civil society during the last meeting to pass the much awaited bill but could not do so before it went on the Christmas break.

The House consequently pledged to pass the RTI during this meeting and its commitment to that pledge has been evident since the House reconvened onTuesday, culminating in the conclusion of consideration.

BY JULIUS YAO

 

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