Chairman of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), Dr. Steve Manteaw has observed that Ghana’s commitment to Open Governance Partnership is flawed by the delay in passing the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into Law.
According to Dr. Manteaw, information is key in promoting transparency, accountability and active citizens participation in government which are the requirements of all member countries under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) agreement.
The Right to Information (RTI) Bill was laid before the House since 2013.
The right to information is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the country’s 1992 Constitution and recognized as a right under International Conventions on Human rights. The bill will give substance to Article 21 (1) (f) of the Constitution which states that “All persons shall have the right to information subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary in a democratic society”.
Speaking at the Open Governance Week forum organised by the Parliamentary Training Institute in partnership with PNAfrica and the OGP Secretariat on the theme, ‘Promoting Open Governance through deepening parliamentary accountability, partnerships and Inclusiveness’ he indicated that though Ghana has made efforts toward this commitment, there is more do to realize a participatory democracy.
He said, Parliament has a key role to play in achieving this commitment by passing laws that promote transparency and ensuring citizens take part in decision-making processes.
“Parliament is one of the three arms of government and, therefore, has a key role to play in OGP. The substantial part of Ghana’s OGP commitment hinges on Parliament and if parliament fails to do what we’re committed to do, that fails in its commitment of OGP,” he stressed.
“The agreement under the OGP is to improve inclusiveness and allow citizens know exactly what is happening in all aspects of governance including which contracts have been awarded and to who so that they can also have a say. The RTI is a law that will enable people easily get information from government and in turn help us fulfill our OGP commitment but its taking Parliament too long to pass it. This is a dent on Ghana’s commitment to the OGP.”
He urged Parliament to be open to citizens and include them in lawmaking processes.
“Openness is a mechanism for achieving participation and participation leads to ownership and ownership engenders compliance. If you’re part of the lawmaking process, chances are that you’ll comply with the provisions of the law. More importantly, ownership builds public support of initiatives of government,” he explained.
He said, Ghana has a lot to achieve by remaining committed to OGP which includes enhancing the country’s image as a democratic state.
“Membership of the OGP enhances the country’s democratic credentials as a beacon of democratic governance in Africa. At the economic level, it boasts investor confidence and subsequently increases foreign-direct investment because if you operate in a country that is opaque in how things are done, it increases the cost of doing business and encourages bribery,” he indicated.
About Open Governance Partnership
The Open Governance Program is a global call to action and call on government to promote collaboration between citizens and itself. For one week in March, all who believe that citizens should play a role in how government makes decisions and subscribe to making government open and accountable come together to observe the Open Governance Week.
The commemoration is to make sure that all is done to pull down the traditional boundaries that prevent citizens from having a say.
The OGP is an international voluntary initiative that seeks to secure concrete commitments from government to the people to promote transparency, accountability, active citizens’ participation and the use of technology and innovation to strengthen governance.
In September 2011, Ghana signed unto the OGP at its formal launch, showing its commitment to improving the lives of citizens through transparent and accountable governance.
Eight founding member countries, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, South Africa, Norway, Philippines, United Kingdom and United States endorsed an Open Government Declaration and announced their county’s action plans.
OGP members have since grown from 8 to 75 countries, ten of which are from Africa.
Ghana’s membership demonstrates her desire to further deepen open governance and participatory democracy, thus enhancing the principles of good governance.
This according to Governance experts, has tremendously added to the international image of the country. The OGP is a multi-stakeholder initiative that requires state-civil society collaboration. The collaborative spirit of the initiative finds expression in its governance arrangement. Ghana has a 20-member Steering Committee with membership drawn from MDAs and CSOs, co-chaired by the Minister of State in-charge of Public Sector Reforms and a representative from Civil Society and two reps from Parliament.
The Parliament of Ghana has over the years been embarking on various interventions that contribute to making governance open. The 2019 OGP celebration focuses on gender inclusion as key priorities.
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