Statement: Consideration of RTI Bill ends Abruptly in Parliament for lack of Quorum

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The Media Coalition on RTI observed with great joy the resumption of work on the RTI Bill this afternoon in accordance with the pledge by Parliament yesterday to “start in earnest with the Consideration Stage of the Right to Information Bill, 2018, with the aim of completing its consideration before the introduction of the Budget Statement…” We are happy that our efforts in the last two days and earlier efforts by other well-meaning Ghanaians and organisations are yielding results.

As we congratulate Parliament for listening to the voice of the people, we are taken aback by the abrupt end of the process after about one hour of working on it due to a motion on the lack of quorum in the House raised by the Hon. MP for Adansi Asokwa, Mr. Kobina Tahir Hammond. Parliament’s Standing Order 48(2) requires that “If at the time of Sitting a Member takes notice or objection that there are present in the House, besides the person presiding, less than one-third of the number of all the Members of Parliament, and after an interval of ten minutes a quorum is not present, the person presiding shall adjourn the House without Question put until the next sitting day.” We therefore understood why the Speaker had no choice but to bring the subject to a close, although other concerns such as the tight schedule of the Committee responsible for the Bill were also raised.

We are minded by the fact that Mr. K. T. Hammond, has since the year 2016 adopted this path of raising
quorum issues whenever the RTI Bill is under consideration. It has become necessary that our elected
representatives are in the Chamber at all times to do the work they are paid to do.

Beginning tomorrow 1st November, 2018, the Coalition, with support from Parliamentary Network Africa (PNAfrica) and the Parliamentary Press Corp, will put in place measures to take note of the names of all MPs present in Chamber whenever the RTI Bill is called for Consideration, and will publish the names of all MPs who are absent for the information of their constituents. This we believe will ensure that a quorum is present at all time in Parliament for a god work to be done on the Bill

We call on the leadership of both sides of the House, especially the Whips, to ensure that their Members avail themselves for the task entrusted to them.

Having taken note of the indicative date for the Budget reading (15th November, 2018), we will gladly
countdown the days from now until then to see if Parliament will live up to its pledge of passing the Bill before the Budget reading. We call on all Civil Society Organisations and other stakeholders who have been supporting parliament in this process, including all media practitioners, to continue to support the august House to deliver excellence for the good people of Ghana.

Issued in Accra for Immediate Release
Steering Committee, Media Coalition on RTI

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