CSOs Urge MPs To Review RTI Bill

Professor Mike Oquaye, Speaker of Parliament

THE RIGHT to Information Action Campaign has appealed to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communication to reconsider the addendum proposals for amendments on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.

Addressing the media on Tuesday, June 12, in Accra, on behalf of the campaign group, Dr. Kojo Asante of Coalition for Democratic Development said some parts in the Bill still needed serious attention, following the clause-by-clause review of the Bill in Koforidua this year.

Dr. Asante explained that for the purposes of the review process, the provisions of the Bill have been divided into two parts.

He stated that “the first part titled: ‘Substantive’ identifies core provisions in serious need of review and the second part titled: ‘Other,’ focuses on other provisions that need to be reviewed for the purposes of clarity and consistency.”

According to him, Clause 3 under the Substantive Provisions ought to have its heading changed to “Responsibility of public institutions in respect of proactive disclosure of information.”

Still under the Substantive Provisions, he said, the words ‘Vice President’ should be removed from Clause 5’s heading; and that in Clause 8 and 9, the word ‘prejudice’ should be deleted but ‘damage’ should be kept.

Again, the CSOs urged that the committee should delete Clause 12 because the objective of Clause 12 is to protect personal tax information which is already provided for in Clause 16.

Dr. Asante explained that “maintaining Clause 12 invariable makes information relating to tax administration exempt information which defeats government’s own objective on tax governance and increasing domestic resource mobilization.”

He said under the amendment, the Parliamentary Committee must “define public function in Clause 91 to include the case of private bodies obligated to provide public goods by the Constitution or statue and/or whose activities impact substantially the public interest.”

With respect to amendments under ‘Other Provisions,’ he said Clause 1 heading should change to “Right to Information” instead of “Access to Official Information.”

BY Melvin Tarlue & Shuabu Ali