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Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. Akilakpa Sawyerr, has become a contrarian voice on the passage of the Right to Information Bill into law, saying the new law is fraught with crucial deficiency.
Rather than the new law which many are cautiously celebrating after it took over a decade of activism and demands to get Parliament to pass it, the respected academician said Ghana would be better served if an Open Contracting regime was instituted.
At a conference organized by Policy think tank, IMANI Africa, Prof. Sawyerr pointed out that the structure of the legislation puts a burden of request on Ghanaians, and this burden of request is costly.
If a person wants information under the new law, he or she has to apply and fund his request, whether by way of transportation or correspondence. This Prof. Sawyer said was dangerous to the desired effect of the law.
However, under Open Contracting, the information wouldn’t have to be requested of Government before it is made available, as the Government would be under compulsion to make every information available to the public even without the public asking.
“Under Open Contracting, what we are essentially saying is that every government contract ought to be made publicly available immediately it is passed. Not just available, but all corresponding documents, correspondences etcetera should be made freely available to the public immediately a contract is passed,” he explained.
He cited that that regime is working in some jurisdictions across the globe, including the UK and can be made to work in Ghana as well, and this would either be far better than the Right to Information law or a good enhancement of that law.
Parliament passed the Right to Information (RTI) Bill into law on 26th March 2019.The law which will be implemented in January 2020 awaits Presidential assent.
The RTI law will provide for the operationalization of the constitutional right to information held by the 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.
Source: Whatsupnews Ghana