11 December 2018

Ghana: We'll Pass RTI Bill 2019 - Veep

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Newspaper, press, media.

The much anticipated passage of the Right To Information (RTI) Bill will not happen this year as speculated.

According to the Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Bill, which is presently under consideration by Parliament, will be passed during the early part of the next session of the House in 2019.

"Government is aware of the persistent advocacy by several groups to get the RTI Bill passed. I want to assure you that the government is very committed to have the law to boost its corruption fight. We keep seeking for updates from Parliament and so just this morning, I was speaking to the First Deputy Speaker and he told me they have considered about half of the amendments so far. All things being equal, he tells me early in the next session of Parliament, this Bill which has been sought after for the past 20 years will be passed," he stated.

Speaking in Accra yesterday at the commemoration of International Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Day, the Vice President said the RTI law was one of the numerous channels and instruments the government was exploring to clamp down on corruption.

The event which was attended by representatives of the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU), the Judiciary, Parliament, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Ghana Police Service, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and among others, was also to mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

It was also to launch the National Anti-Corruption Online Reporting Dashboard (NACoRD) which was to be used by public institutions to report corrupt practices to CHRAJ.

In addition to the RTI Bill, Dr Bawumia said government was pursuing the passage of the Public Officers Code of Conduct Bill, laid in Parliament in 2008, which would set clear rules for public officers on acceptable and unacceptable conduct and would help sanction those who misconduct themselves.

He said the introduction of technological systems by the government in the provision of public services including passport acquisition, clearing of goods at the ports, business registration, and Mobile Money Interoperability, among others was to remove the human interface which mostly was the conduit for corruption in various public institutions.

In order to ensure judicious use of the nation's resources to further development and make life meaningful to the citizenry, the Vice President said it was time Ghanaians confront corruption head on and take advantage of the (NACAP), adopted in 2014 to tackle the canker.

He said the NACAP provides a systematic, deliberate and strategic plan to fight corruption and pledged the government's commitment to ensure all public institutions to implement NACAP and report accordingly.

Enumerating some negative impact of corruption on the country's drive towards development, Dr Bawumia said the canker undermines capabilities and violates individual's rights to development and was a threat to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

"Corruption is an obstacle to our development and it has suffocated initiatives and creativity that would have improved lives. It has further denied the government of needed revenue to undertake developmental projects and undermines fair and equal treatments to citizens. It is time to wage war against corruption, end public resource waste and imbibe sound work ethics. It is our collective responsibility to fight corruption. The implementation of NACAP is a major priority in ensuring that the fight against corruption is successful and government will play a lead role in its implementation," he added.

Mr Joseph Osei Owusu, First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, said it was erroneous for groups and individuals to assume Parliament was frustrating the effort to pass the RTI Bill.

Rather, he said the legislature was aggressively working to pass the Bill adding that "for the first time in Ghana, the Standing Orders of Parliament was suspended to allow the process to go on. Let no one think that Parliament is reluctant to get it passed."

He urged for a decentralisation of the campaign of RTI to the local level to ensure that local authorities were held accountable.

UN Resident Coordinator, Christine Evans-Klock, urged Ghana to maintain its image as a beacon of democracy by ending corruption and vigilantism, sustaining respect for diversity of religious beliefs, extend protection of rights to all citizens, implementing legislation on affirmative action for gender equality and freedom of access to information.

Mrs Diana Acconcia, EU Ambassador to Ghana, reiterated the Union's commitment to support government's efforts to fight corruption and strengthen law enforcement agencies through technical assistance.

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