RTI Bill In Limbo

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The Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, yesterday clashed with the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, over the Right To Information (RTI) Bill. The minority leader had raised serious concerns about certain aspects of the bill relating to its implementation and asked the speaker to let the House take a careful look at those critical issues before it could be passed. But the speaker strongly disagreed, saying that there was no time to consider such issues since the House had made a commitment to pass the bill before the Sixth Parliament is finally dissolved. The minority caucus in parliament indicated that it would boycott the passage of the RTI Bill if the necessary consultations were not allowed by the majority. Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu noted that the hasty manner in which government was conducting its activities a few days to its handing over contravenes the Presidential Transition Act 2012 (845). He said the law provides the opportunity for the incoming government to be consulted by the outgoing government on key national decisions, but this had not been done. “Personally, I am committed that we do it,” he said, but the “Presidential Transition Act has to be followed.” But Doe Adjaho thinks otherwise. “We have a bill before us and I am doing my work as speaker of parliament,” he said, adding, “The Presidential Transition Act is not Parliamentary Transition Act.” The speaker’s comment angered Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who said his side would walk out if the majority carried through with the passage of the bill. “If that is the way the speaker wants to go then with respect we will not want to be part of it,” he declared. The minority leader insisted that those issues are also very important to make the bill stand the test of time. The entrenched positions of the speaker and the minority leader resulted in banter between the two until the Majority Leader, Alban Bagbin, intervened and said the House needed consensus building and that it would be prudent for the leadership of parliament to consult and come to a compromise. The consideration of the bill was, therefore, deferred to allow for a deliberation by the leadership as to which direction the House will go. The minority New Patriotic Party (NPP) is expected to have a press conference today to state its position on the matter in order not to create the impression that it is opposed to the RTI Bill. The majority MPs taunted the minority members, saying they were running away from the passage of the RTI Bill. In another development, the Committee of the Whole yesterday evening met behind closed doors to discuss issues concerning parliamentarians’ ex-gratia and emolument as enshrined in Article 71 of the Constitution. All the MPs were tight-lipped over the amount that had been proposed for their ex-gratia.