Ghana Aid Effectiveness Forum (GAEF), a civil society advocacy group on Tuesday expressed reservation about delay in passing the Right to Information Bill by Parliament.
In a statement to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, GAEF reminded the law makers that, RTI is essential for enhancing the ability of citizens to engage with government on policy issues.
GAEF therefore questioned why the Bill is still languishing in Parliament after two long years?
“The RTI Bill is about making basic information on government activities available to citizens. Holding government accountable is impossible without access to information, and the capacity to ask relevant questions.”
“Currently, inadequate access to information on government activities prohibits effective citizen-government dialogue on policies and programmes,” GAEF stated.
The statement said Ghanaians have to turn to international agency reports to find out what the Ghana government is using the country’s resources for....”this is unacceptable”.
According to GAEF, the latest UN Africa Human Development Report (2012) shows that, in the years 2000 – 2008, Ghana spent more on defense than on research for agricultural development.
This raises questions as to how development priorities are set and to what extent citizens are involved.
The public needs information not only to facilitate monitoring and oversight, but also to engage effectively with government, share ideas and knowledge about ground realities, promote civic participation in governance.
The passage of the Right to Information Bill is therefore critical in achieving participatory development.
The GAEF therefore joined other civil society groups including the Coalition on Right to Information, to remind parliament of “Their commitment to uphold Articles 1 and 21 of the 1992 constitution which together put the RTI law within the ambit of a right”.
GAEF appealed to parliament to approve a RTI law that conforms with international best practices immediately.**