The absence of a Right To Information (RTI) law in Ghana is not a problem in the country but rather access to the gazette containing public sector information is the main issue Ghanaians must deal with, Professor Kwaku Asare, a United States-based Ghanaian professor, has said.
According to him, efforts must be channeled to the bottlenecks that are associated with accessing the gazette, which is the storeroom of public sector information.
His comment comes on the heels of pressure on government by the RTI focused group, Action Campaign Group, to ensure the passage of the RTI bill by Friday, 23 March 2018 before Parliament rises on that day.
The group’s action followed assurances given by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo that government was committed to the passage of the bill in his speech at Ghana’s 61st independence celebration.
“After many years of hesitation, we intend to bring a Bill again to Parliament and work to get it passed into law before Parliament rises,” the president said.
However, commenting on this development in a Facebook post, Prof Asare said: “The problem is not a right to information. The problem is access to the gazette, which is supposed to be a data warehouse of public sector information.
“The solution therefore is an amendment to existing laws to provide that ‘Where any law provides that any rule, regulation, order, bye-law, notification or any other matter shall be published in the Official Gazette, then, such requirement shall be deemed to have been satisfied if such rule, regulation, order, bye-law, notification or any other matter is published in the Electronic Gazette.’
“Concurrently, the ministry of telecommunications must be resourced to invest in functional state of the art data storage and management system to host the gazette. So I am for eGazette!”
Meanwhile, the Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has revealed that Cabinet has already endorsed the RTI Bill and expressed optimism that it will soon be laid before parliament for passage.
“Just a couple of weeks ago, Cabinet has given approval to the Right to Information (RTI) Bill to be laid in parliament for debate and approval because it is very critical that we pass the Right to Information (RTI) Bill,” he said in an address at the Norway Ghana Business Forum in Accra.
Dr Bawumia added that “it is our hope that this will be an additional feather in our cap to the fight against corruption”.
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