First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu has said no pressure group can threaten Parliament to pass the RTI Bill into law. A pressure group, Right to Information Coalition on March 15, 2018, gave the government a 10-day ultimatum to lay the RTI Bill before parliament so as the house will pass the Bill into Law.
2018 marks 22 years since the first Right to Information RTI Bill was drafted under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs, IEA.
It also marks 16 years since the Executive arm of government in 2002 drafted the first RTI Bill. The draft Executive Bill was subsequently reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was never laid in Parliament until February 5, 2010.
However speaking in an interview with Radio Ghana on the ten-day ultimatum given by the RTI Action Campaign Group, First Deputy Speaker Joseph Osei Owusu stated that Parliament works through procedures and would expedite action on the Bill if it is brought back to the House.
He added that a lot of work has already been done on the Bill, this means there will be very little work to be done if the same thing is presented.
In a related development, Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has been accused by George Loh of sabotaging the passage of the much-awaited RTI Bill into Law during the sixth Parliament.
According to the Former Vice Chair on Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, George Loh the Right to Information Bill, RTI Bill which was drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 was left with only three readings in Parliament to become law in 2016 but Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu then a Minority Leader stated on the floor of Parliament that his colleagues in the Minority are not interested in passing the Bill.
“We had shepherded the bill and we were left with just a few clauses. But you know when it got to the crunch and we were supposed to do it…it was the opposition leader then, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, who said there were better things they [Minority] are thinking about, [Mensah-Bonsu said] our people are not willing to do it, we would not want to do it. We [NPP Minority members] have had a meeting and we think that this is not the right time so when we [NPP] come [to power] we will pass it,”
George Loh added that if the current government is interested in getting the bill passed, it can be done in just three days.