The Minister for Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has re-emphasized Government’s commitment to the full implementation of the Right to Information Law and the deepening of citizens participation in governance.
According to the Minister who has played different roles at different times in the 19-year journey of the Right to Information Law (Act 989) before, during and after its passage, his outfit in partnership with the RTI Commission, has made significant strides to ensure the smooth implementation of the Act.
He said, the inauguration of the Governing Council of the Right to Information Commission in October 2020 by the President of the Republic, added another layer to the effort to make RTI fully implemented, epitomizing the Government’s commitment to deepening citizens participation in governance.
Delivering the keynote address at a public forum organized by the Right to Information Commission to commemorate the International Day for the Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) in Accra, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah disclosed that his outfit has established a new division to ensure the smooth implementation of the Act in the quest to ensure good governance.
He said, “So far, information units have been set up in 539 public institutions across Ghana. To prepare the public institutions to deliver on their obligations under Act 989, the Ministry of Information established and commissioned the access to Information division within the Information Services Department (ISD) on the 17th of July, 2020.”
The division, he added, is responsible for training and deploying Access to Information (ATI) Officers to Ministries, Departments and Agencies to facilitate access to information requests of the respective MDAs. The division also provides technical support to the RTI Officers on their day to day activities.
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah informed the gathering that, so far, the division has trained a total of 1055 officers who are tasked to facilitate and process access to information requests for the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies. These Officers include 478 designated ATI Officers, 478 Records Officers, and 99 newly recruited information Officers.
He added that the Ministry through the Information Services Department ATI Division, has also developed an online records management system to provide an IT led solution which will help to manage online applications under the RTI Act 2019. The online platform is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year 2021.
The Public Forum on the International Day for the Universal Access to Information, was a major highlight of the Right to Information week instituted by the RTI Commission in Ghana.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of the RTIC, Yaw Sarpong Boateng Esq. indicated that the week long-celebration is aimed at promoting access to information and creating public awareness of the Right Information Act, 2019.
According to him, the functions of the Commission as required under the Law has so far been effectively discharged including the consideration of some review applications since its establishment.
“For instance, as required by the Law, the Commission issued a directive to all public institutions to submit reports on their compliance with Act 989 in terms of appointment of information officers and records of application for information received and granted or otherwise. About 43 public institutions complied. From next year the Commission is poised to ensure better compliance with this obligation under the Act,” he said.
In compliance with section 64(3) and 77(4) of the Right to Information Act, the Ministry of Information successfully laid before Parliament the maiden annual report of the activities of public institutions and the Commission in respect of 2020.
The absence of a Legislated fees and charges regime that would standardize the application cost has attracted attention in respect of the RTI law, but the Minister for Information has assured that the Ministry of Finance would soon lay the proposal for fees and charges that will govern the RTI applications before Parliament as soon as they return from recess.
Source: Clement Akoloh||africanewsradio.com