The Right to Information Action Campaign (RIAC) has appealed to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Communication to revisit the addendum proposals for amendments on the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.
Addressing the media at a press conference on 12th June, 2018 in Accra, Dr. Kojo Asante, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), intimated that, the Right to Information was guaranteed under the 1992 Constitution in Article 21 (1) (f); adding that, democratically, it means that information collected by public institutions are collected on behalf of citizens and should be made accessible to them.
According to him, following the laying of the report before Parliament on the Bill by the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs on May 23 and the subsequent second reading of the Bill on June 7, there were some persisting flaws in the RTI Bill.
He said, this is the reason why any good RTI law stresses on the principle of maximum and proactive disclosure. But he added that, in some instances you will realise that, it will be useful not to disclose information at all.
Dr. Kojo Asante indicated that, the Bill has been divided into two, purposely for the review process. “the first part titled: ‘Substantive’ identifies core provisions in serious need of review and the second part titled: ‘Other,’ focuses on other provisions that need to be reviewed for the purposes of clarity and consistency.”
He also emphasized that, the heading of Clause 3 under the Substantive Provisions needs to be changed, “Responsibility of public institutions in respect of proactive disclosure of information. The words ‘Vice President’ should be removed from Clause 5’s heading; and that in Clause 8 and 9, the word ‘prejudice’ should be deleted but ‘damage’ should be kept.”
The RTI Action Campaign also called for the amendment of Clause 12 because its objective is to protect personal tax information which is already provided for in Clause 16 which includes information likely to reveal confidential professional, commercial or financial affairs.
“Maintaining Clause 12 invariably makes information relating to tax administration exempt information which defeats government’s own objective on tax governance and increasing domestic resource mobilization,” Dr. Asante reiterated.
According to him, with respect to amendments under ‘Other Provisions,’ Clause 1 heading should be changed to “Right to Information” instead of “Access to Official Information. Adding that, the Parliamentary Committee must “define public function in Clause 91 to include the case of private bodies obligated to provide public goods by the Constitution or statue and/or whose activities impact substantially the public interest.”
However, he called on the Parliamentarians that, “passing a credible law that would facilitate the effective participation of citizens in the affairs of state, facilitates the welfare of citizens and promoting transparency will only inure to the benefit of all”.