RTI Finally Laid; Bill Referred To Constitutional and Legal Committee

The most widely talked about Right to Information Bill (RTI) has finally been laid before parliament Friday, March 23, the last day of sitting before the house goes on recess.

The President, Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had promised on March 6 that the NPP government will see to the passage of the RTI bill before parliament goes on recess.

Read: RTI bill will be passed before Parliament rises

Pressure groups have since championed a campaign to have the bill passed by the deadline of the president.

Laying the bill on Friday, Deputy Attorney General, Joseph Dinkiok Kpemka was on the floor of parliament to do the first reading and the presentation of the bill to parliament on behalf of the Attorney General, who was absent.

“An act to provide for the implementation of the constitutional rights to information held by a public institution subject to the exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of the public interest in a democratic society to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and to provide for related matters”, the Deputy Attorney General submitted.

Before the Deputy Attorney General took to the floor to lay the bill, the majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu bemoaned media commentary that suggested he had said the right to information bill will not be brought before the house before it rises. According to him, his words were misrepresented and he finds the situation unfortunate.

Read: RTI Bill to be in parliament tomorrow, if cabinet gives approval today – Majority Leader

Commenting on the bill, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, raised some procedural infractions associated with the laying of the bill. He argued that even though the minority respects the bill it was important for them to respect the constitution and standing orders of the house. He made particular reference to Article 106 (B) of the 1992 constitution which requires bills to be gazzeted for a minimum of 14 days before laid in parliament.

“…So date of gazette notification after page 43 is no indication, I want to be guided that we have respected the constitution and the standing orders…”, he said.

He ended by suggesting that the Communications committee joins the constitutional, legal and parliamentary affairs committee for the consideration of the bill.

The majority leader rebutted the position of the minority leader saying it is not the first time parliament is introducing a bill that has not been gazetted for 14 days. He argued that the urgency or otherwise of the bill will be decided at the committee level, a position the speaker corroborated.

The Speaker of Parliament Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye however agreed that the communications committee joins the constitutional, legal and parliamentary affairs committee but insisted that much of the work would rest on the constitutional, legal and parliamentary affairs committee.

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