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Parliament withdraws RTI bill again for ‘not being urgent in nature’

Parliament has again withdrawn the over a decade-old Right to Information Bill on the basis that it is “not urgent” in nature.

The contentious bill was last laid before Parliament on March 23 this year before the House went on recess amidst some procedural concerns raised by the minority leader Haruna Iddrisu.

At an emergency sitting Thursday to consider and ratify a number of bills, the House held that the bill, which was first drafted in 1999, was not urgent in nature, TV3’s Catherine Frimpomaa reported.

In making the decision to withdraw the bill Thursday night, the House took the view that it had not been gazetted, our parliamentary correspondent reported.

This means the bill will now be taken through the normal parliamentary procedure of gazetting and be considered after 14 days.

The joint Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs observed there were still some critical issues in the bill which required extensive consultations before it could be considered and passed by the House, our correspondent reported.

Right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights.

The passage of the RTI is expected to grant Ghanaians access to official information in the custody of public and private bodies performing functions that are funded by the taxpayer.

Setbacks and broken promises

Drafted in 1999 under the auspices of the policy think-tank group, Institute of Economic Affairs, the bill was presented to parliament on February 5, 2010, after it received reviews in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

It has since faced a number of setbacks in the attempts to have it passed.

An attempt by Parliament in December 2016 to finally pass the bill, hit a snag as the minority members in the House raised red flag over aspects of the bill. They at the time proposed 24 amendments be made to the bill.

The apparent delays in the passage of the bill have widely been criticised by some anti-corruption crusaders who have pointed to lack of political will on the part of both the executive and parliament.

At Ghana’s 61st Independence Day celebration parade at the independence square in Accra, President Nana Akufo-Addo reaffirmed his government’s commitment to ensuring the passage of the bill before the March recess by the MPs.

“After many years of hesitation, we intend to bring a Bill again to Parliament and work to get it passed into law before Parliament rises,” he said.

But that also became another broken promise that has characterised the bill.

 

 

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