The Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, has given a new deadline for the passage of the Right to Information Bill.
He said parliament is working to ensure the passage of the bill by the end of December 2018.
He noted that the house will try its best within the constraints of considering appropriations to pass the RTI Bill before it rises on Saturday 23rd December 2018 or in January 2019 if the December deadline fails.
Speaking at a Dialogue between the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Civil Society groups, the Suame legislator said Parliament is still committed to the passage of the RTI bill.
“We shall strive to pass the RTI before we end the session on Saturday the 23rd December 2018. Failing which I would assure that we shall use the first two weeks of the next meeting to have the bill passed. I’m being very realistic,” he said.
This will not be the first time the leadership of parliament has given assurances of having the bill passed.
The RTI bill has become controversial due to how various parliaments over nearly two decades, have handled it and failed to pass it.
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 as has been drafted is to 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 for a democratic society.”
The back and forth
The Right to Information Bill was first drafted in 1999 under former president, Jerry John Rawlings.
Various advocacy groups emerged to press for the immediate passing of the bill into law in 2002 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) in its 2008 and 2012 election manifestos promised to ensure the Bill was passed. In 2010, it was presented to Parliament for consideration.
In 2011, the government signed unto the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative with a commitment to pass the law. In November 2013, the Bill was formally laid before parliament.
Former Attorney General, Deputy Dominic Ayine in 2015, moved the Bill for second reading in Parliament. In October 2016, the Bill was withdrawn and replaced with a new one which was immediately laid.
Following the dissolution of the Sixth Parliament of the Fourth Republic and the swearing-in of new Parliament in January 2017, the Bill had to be re-laid by the new government before work commences on it.