The scheduled debate on the Right to Information Bill (RTI Bill) in Parliament yesterday was shot down by the Minority.
The Minority, led by its leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, was not happy with the suggestion by the Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Muntaka Mubarak, that the Minority had not shown commitment to the bill.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu had also requested that some of the transitional documents be made available to Parliament before the passage of the said bill.
Responding, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, said the ongoing process was a presidential transition and not a parliamentary transition.
He said since the motion for the RTI Bill had been programmed by the Business Committee of Parliament, the debate had to go on.
Besides, he said, the House had given its commitment to ensure the passage of the bill before the dissolution of the House.
But Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said if that was going to be the posture the Speaker had taken, then the Minority would not be part of any debate in relation to the bill.
The Majority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin, said the debate on the bill needed to be done in an atmosphere of understanding.
He, therefore, suggested that the House should suspend sitting for the leadership of the House to have a discussion on it.
Consequently, the Speaker deferred the consideration of the bill for the leadership to meet over it.
Parliament has been under pressure from civil society organisations and the media to pass the bill, which is expected to give the public greater access to government information.
The bill was drafted in 1999 and reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was not presented to Parliament.
It is expected to operationalise Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution, which states: “All persons shall have the right to information, subject to such qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic society.”
If the bill is passed, the public will have the legal right to access information such as government records, files, registers, maps, data, drawings, reports, among others.