Only 322 institutions submit annual reports to RTI Commission – Minister

Fatima Abubakar – Minister of Information

The Right to Information (RTI) Commission, in 2023 received the annual reports of 322 out of an expected 683 institutions, Madam Fatimatu Abubakar, Information Minister, told Parliament on Friday.

That, she said, was totally unacceptable.

Presenting the 2023 RTI Report to the House, the Information Minister said the Ministry strongly urged the RTI Commission to impose administrative penalties against public institutions that failed, according to Section 71(2)(6) of the RTI Act, 2019.

She said of the complying 322 institutions, 173 received applications for information; adding that those institutions in total received 1,749 requests.

“Mr Speaker, the successful implementation of the RTI Law in Ghana partly depends on the demand for access to information by individuals, institutions, or groups. In accordance with Section 1 of Act 989, a person has the right to information and may apply for access to that information,” she stated.

‘It is important for citizens to understand, Mr Speaker, that in some limited circumstances as outlined between section 5 to 17 of Act 989, public institutions have a right to exempt some classes of information from access under this Act.”

Madam Abubakar said the RTI Act, 2019 had clearly identified and classified some information as exempt, which called for safeguards, including those related to national security, public safety and/or individual privacy.

She said the RTI Commission, however, as an independent and impartial body, had also been resourced to deal with any unwarranted denials by public institutions.

The Minister indicated that the Ghana Revenue Authority processed the highest number of requests, amounting to 115.

Out of the 1,749 requests received by the various public institutions, 1,225 were approved by the information officers of the public institutions representing 70 per cent of the total number of applications received.

The Minister said the total number of applications rejected for varied reasons was 281 by the various public institutions, representing 16 per cent of the total requests.

She noted that reasons cited for rejecting requests include exempt information and information not in the custody of the public institution.

She said 42 of the requests were transferred to other institutions for processing, 20 were deferred, 19 were partially granted and 162 were referred.

She informed the House that work would soon be completed on the Legislative Instrument (LI) for the RTI Act.

Mr Alexander Kwamina Afenyo-Markin, the Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business in Parliament, who commended the Information Minister for the timely presentation of the 2023 RTI Report, reiterated the government’s commitment to accountability and transparency.

Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza, the Minority Chief Whip and National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Adaklu, commended the Minister for complying with the time frame for the submission of the RTI Report to the House.

Mr Samuel Okudjeto Ablakwa, NDC MP for North Tongu, who said it took the nation more than 20 years to pass the RTI Bill into law, also commended President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for assenting to the RTI Bill.

Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, the Majority Chief Whip and New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for Nsawam-Adoagyiri, lauded the Yagbonwura and the Wa Naa for donating parcels of lands to the Information Ministry towards the construction of regional offices of the RTI Commission in the Savannah and Upper West regions.

Source: GNA

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