The Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) and the Right to Information (RTI) Coalition, have expressed concern about some clauses in the impending Right to Information Bill currently before Parliament.
According to them, the Bill did not elaborate on the kinds of information to be proactively disclosed, whereas there were too many exemption clauses that might undermine the principles of proactive and maximum disclosure.
They were also not happy with the fee regime for lodging a request and the timelines for responding to request and therefore wanted the fee regime to be omitted and the timeline reduced.
Again, they were proposing an amendment to Clause 18 which required citizens to show an ID when they applied for information with the explanation that if information was supposed to be provided to the public, it was not essential to worry about the identity of the applicant.
Mr Seth Abloso, Chairman of the RTI Coalition, who shared these sentiments during a Regional sensitisation workshop on the RTI Bill in Cape Coast, said it was imperative that those provisions were amended to ensure that Ghana had a credible RTI law.
The programme with support from the Accountable Democratic Institutions and Systems Strengthening (ADISS) among other things aimed at sensitising citizens on the provisions of the RTI Bill.
It also sought to educate people on the law making process to create an opportunity and an enabling environment for citizens and other key stakeholders to ask questions and debate relevant issues for a credible RTI law.
Mr Abloso indicated that those provisions in Ghana’s RTI Bill did not correspond with the AU Model Law, which said the costs for seeking information should not be as high as to deter people from accessing the information requested and also the costs should only be for reproduction, translation and transcription.
According to him, information was time sensitive and should be accessed within a reasonable time and therefore excessive long timelines defeated the purpose of the RtI.
He said information was critical for the development of every nation and that there was an obligation on public officials to promote full disclosure for right holders.
Mr Abloso said passing a credible RTI law would facilitate the effective participation of citizens in the affairs of state, facilitate the welfare of citizens, and promote transparency which ultimately would inure to the benefit of the nation.
Mr Jacob Tetteh Ahuno, Programmes Officer of GII, implored Ghanaian journalist to join the RTI Action Campaign and use their platforms to engage parliamentarians for the passage of the Bill into law.