A Deputy Minister for Information, Ama Dokuaa Asiamah Agyei, has noted that the delay in passing the Right to Information Bill, is largely because other equally important Bills are also fighting for attention.
She thus explained that, the delay does not mean the Bill is not a priority, and that other bills from different sectors have also been on the table, and must be attended to.
She said “Bills like this, you don’t work on it yourself (as a Ministry); it is the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General which usually works on our bills, so it is more of the survival of the fittest”.
The Deputy Minister made the observations in her interaction with the media at Cape Coast on Tuesday, as part of the Ministry’s national tour across the regions to interact with the media.
Madam Ama Dokuaa was however quick to add that, there is the need for the bill to be passed because “access to the information will cure what we see today as fake news everywhere”.
The RTI, when passed, will give flesh to Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution which stipulates that, “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
Again, the bill is to ease access to official information in the bosom of both public and private bodies performing functions that are funded by the taxpayer.
The Bill was drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007, but was not presented to Parliament until 2010.
Getting to the latter part of the Mahama administration, there was a strong indication the Bill would be passed into law, but it was rather withdrawn in October 2016 for another review.
The Akufo-Addo government which firmly promised to pass it while campaigning in opposition prior to the 2016 elections, has recently come under much pressure to fulfill that promise.
Though various assurances have been given by the current administration on the passage of the RTI, the Deputy Information Minister stated that the Bill is a priority to the President, saying, “It is his (the President’s) baby”.
She was hopeful the bill will be passed into law by the end of 2018.