Government intends to explore more funding options to ensure that the Right to Information (RTI) bill is effectively resourced before it fully takes off next year, Minister for Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has said.
After two decades in the works, Parliament on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 passed the Right to Information bill (RTI) into law – and government is already preparing a road map for implementing the RTI law.
“Government is committed to putting portions of the national resource envelope that is available to facilitate this law at the disposal of agencies responsible for its implementation. This law, admittedly, requires a lot of significant resources; and l am sure when it gets to budget 2020, we will explore how to ensure the funding is not a one-off but regular, so that we can all get the benefits of it,” Mr. Oppong Nkrumah told B&FT in an interview after passage of the bill.
Following its passage, the bill will now be forwarded to the president for assent before it finally becomes a law.
The next step is moving toward implementation – particularly behind the scenes infrastructure, so by the time the next financial year comes around, as the current law says, government will be ready to see to it fully, the minister noted.
Prior to the passage, Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu advised government to provide a budgetary allocation for the RTI office, and added that he has no doubt it will enrich the country’s efforts to combat corruption and hold public officers accountable.
Among requirements of the RTI law is establishment of the RTI Commission, as well as the recruitment and training of information officers to manage RTI units across the country. There also has to be completion of various administrative protocols before start of the next fiscal year.
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah further explained that government is working between now and half-year (June) to tidy up the roadmap for implementation and get the necessary Cabinet approval, and then use the second half of the year to do all of the background work. So that by the start of next financial year, as the bill says, it is ready to be implemented.
The bill in its current form is sufficient to meet the tenets of Article 21(f).
The law provides for operationisation of the constitutional right to information held by public and some private institutions, subject to exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of public interest in a democratic society.
It also seeks to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs, and to provide for related matters.
The RTI bill was first drafted in 1999, reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 – but was only presented to Parliament in 2010.