RTI Bill laid as Parliament prepares for Easter break

The Right to Information Bill (RTI) was finally laid on Friday in Parliament.

Deputy Attorney General Joseph Kpemka Dindiok, laid the bill on Friday morning, after Cabinet consideration on Thursday night.

Speaker of Parliament Professor Aaron Michael Oquaye referred the Bill to a joint committee of the Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs and Communications for consideration and report to the plenary.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, announced at this year’s Independence Day celebration on March 6, 2018 that the Bill would be laid and passed.

There has also been pressure from a number of stakeholder groups and civil society groups for the Government to expedite the passage of the more than two decades old bill, but it is unlikely that the Bill would be passed before House rises for the Easter holidays later in the day.

The passage of the Bill would however, have to wait till at least June this year; or members would have to be recalled during the holidays to deliberate on the bill.

Drafted under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs 22 years ago, the RTI was again drafted by the Executive Arm of Government in 2002, and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007.

It was never laid in Parliament until February 2010.

It was laid again in November 2013 and the legislators had been working on it till November 2016, when the Government, then under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and through the then Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, withdrew the earlier RTI and replaced it with a new one.

The Attorney-General withdrew the bill which had undergone a lot of scrutiny and amendments.
Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, at the relaying on Friday raised procedural issues and breach of the constitution, on the grounds that the bill did not satisfy the 14-day period for gazetting, before it would be laid before the House, a position objected to by the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu

Mr Iddrisu contented that the Bill should have been published in the Gazzette at least fourteen days before introducing it to Parliament.

Citing Article 106(2)(b) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, Mr Iddrisu said :“No bill, other than such a bill as is referred to in paragraph (a) of article 108 of this Constitution, shall be introduced in Parliament unless – it has been published in the Gazette at least fourteen days before the date of its introduction in Parliament”.

Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu countered the position, saying that the Deputy Attorney-General did no wrong in introducing the Bill to Parliament without publication in the Gazzette for at least fourteen days.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said once the Bill had been referred to the Legal, Constitutional and Parliamentary Committee for consideration and report to the House, the duty rested on that joint committee had to determine if the  Bill was of an  urgent nature or not before deciding whether to refer it to be published in the Gazzette,

“Once they decide that the Bill is of urgent nature, it needs not to be published in the Gazzette before introducing it to Parliament,” the Majority Leader said.

Source: GNA

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