Parliament Blamed For Failing To Pass RTI Bill

The Northern Regional Chapter of the Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI) has expressed disappointment at parliament’s inability to pass the Right to Information bill which has been pending in the House for about a decade now. It noted that “Parliamentarians are either adopting this lukewarm attitude towards the bill for their parochial political interest to continue running away from accountability and transparency or for reasons best known to them.” The coalition also demanded to know from the Joint Committee on Communication and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, the report on the Regional Consultations which were held in six selected regions last year, saying “It is very necessary the Joint Committee makes its report available to the House and the general public”. These were contained in a press release issued in Tamale and signed by Mr Mahama Zakaria, the Northern Regional Coordinator of the RTI, who stressed that "the Coalition is calling on the leadership of Parliament to make the RTI bill part of its agenda for its next sitting which is expected to start in May 2012. “We consider this very necessary because the bill, which was drafted in 2002, has been sitting on the shelves of law makers for 10 years now and needs the necessary attention,” the statement said. The coalition also reminded the government of its manifesto promises to the people of Ghana during the 2008 elections that it would ensure the passage of the bill when voted to power, adding “government should note that election 2012 is just around the corner and that their manifesto promise is yet to see the light of day.” It called on all the political parties to demonstrate their commitment to the passage of the bill and urged all civil society groups, the media and the public to lead a crusade towards the passage of the bill to ensure more transparency, accountability and good governance for the development of the country. Meanwhile, when the GNA spoke to some journalists in the Northern Region about the bill, they equally expressed disappointment with the law makers and the executive for failing to push through the Right to Information bill, alleging that the politicians were probably doing this just to continue luring Ghanaians in dubious administrative transactions. A media practitioner, Mr Francis Npong, said if the government actually believed in a free, fair and transparent democratic state, then the bill must be passed to enable ordinary citizens to have access to the needed information. He said the passage had delayed because the bill was not in the interest of the politicians, noting that "several bills that came after the RTI bill had been passed, yet this bill is still waiting. What is the NMC and the GJA doing to push for the passage of the bill which is to enhance the work of journalists?"