The Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI Coalition) welcomes, with cautious optimism, the declaration by H.E President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, at the Africa Open Data Conference in Accra on July 20 2017, of his government's resolve to collaborate with Parliament to speed up the passage of the Right to Information Bill, about the oldest in the hands of successive governments.
The RTI Coalition despite this assurance, notes with disquiet that the Executive has recently introduced some bills to Parliament without the RTI Bill which has clearly been pushed to the back-burner.
We recall that H.E the Vice President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia whilst speaking about the RTI Bill and the NPP government's resolve to fight corruption at the Good Corporate Governance Initiative event held in Accra on Tuesday 31st January, 2017, stated categorically, that, "We are going to have to push Parliament to make the necessary amendments and if I had my way, it should be passed within the first 100 days of this government ".
We also recall that the Minister for Information had on the occasion of the International Press Freedom Day which was observed on 3rd May 2017, made the declaration, on behalf of government, that, "As per the calendar we have sent to Parliament, it is in there that in the May to July, 2017 Session of Parliament, the RTI Bill will be before them for debate and passage. It's non-negotiable”
Whilst it is public knowledge that Parliament is scheduled to rise on 2nd August, 2017, the RTI Coalition notes with disappointment that the RTI Bill is missing on the calendar that is before Parliament and can only conclude that contrary to earlier assurances, the RTI Bill has been negotiated out as a non-priority bill.
The importance of the RTI Legislation to the development and advancement of Democracy, Good Governance, Probity and Accountability cannot be overemphasized. It is therefore difficult to observe that government has not found it necessary to prioritize its placement before Parliament in this session.
It is important to indicate that credibility problems keep lingering on for as long as each day passes without government pledges on the RTI legislation being redeemed.
The Coalition would like to emphasize that action on the passage of the RTI Bill can no longer be justifiably deferred or delayed if government is committed to, in the President’s own words “encourage citizens to hold the government accountable and ensure greater transparency”.
ISSUED BY THE COALITION ON THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION, GHANA, ACCRA, JULY 24th, 2017
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