The Media Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill has question the commitment of Members of Parliament in passing the over decade-old bill, and urged Ghanaians to begin to demand answers from their MPs.The posture of the 275 MPs, according to the coalition that is spearheading a campaign for the passage of the RTI, clearly demonstrates they are not ready to pass the bill into law.
For the second time in less than a week, the consideration of the RTI Bill by parliament was brought to a halt by Parliament on grounds that the House did not have quorum to deliberate on the matter.
On the two occasions, the MP for Adansi Asokwa, K.T. Hammond, who the Coalition describe as “a sworn opponent to the Bill” raised the issue of quorum.
Per parliamentary Standing Order 48 (2): “If at the time of sitting, a member takes notice or objection that there are present in the House, besides the person presiding, less than one-third of the number of all the Members of Parliament, and after an interval of ten minutes a quorum is not present, the person presiding shall adjourn the House without question put until the next sitting day”.
Article 102 stipulates that: “A quorum of Parliament, apart from the one presiding, shall be one-third of all Members of Parliament”.
At the time the Bill came up for consideration on the floor of the House Wednesday, only 43 MPs, including the 2nd Deputy Speaker who was presiding at the time, were in the chamber. Of the 169 majority MPs, only 21 were present and in the case of the minority, there were only 22 MPs as against the total of 106.
Commenting on the development, a leading member of the Coalition, Elvis Darko, said this situation indicates the parliamentarians are not ready to pass the Bill which will help journalist work effectively because it will offer them unfettered access to information, except in a few instances.
“Parliament is not committed to the passage; they don’t want the law and their behaviour shows they are not ready to pass the bill,” he said on Yen Sempa on Onua FM Thursday morning.
“If there are 275 and they are not able to form quorum of 92, then they are not ready,” he stated, adding “they can even sit until 9:00pm to pass some bills and they demonstrated it through their actions”.
Mr. Darko thus urged Ghanaians to begin to question their MPs on why they are engaging in feet-dragging on the issue of the RTI bill.
“If it were to be in the interest of the MPs, they would have lobbied for the MPs to come and pass the Bill. If the government wants loan, they would have come to pass so we should ask our MPs questions,” he urged.