New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Offinso South Constituency in the Ashanti Region and Chairman for the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee of Parliament Mr Ben Abdalla has hinted that the approval of the 2019-Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Ghana is of more importance than the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Bill.
Mr Abdalla further explained that the reason for the deferring of the consideration of the RTI bill for the 2019 budget presented to Parliament last month by the Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta by the House was the importance members attached to the 2019 budget.
“You must bear with us with respect to the workings of parliament because now we are considering the budget and on the scale of preference the budget is more important than the RTI now,” he told journalists.
“If we don’t approve the budget how do we run the country?” he asked saying: “Even the RTI, when it becomes a law it will be funded by the budget. So, as it is at the moment the budget is of more paramount importance than the RTI.” He reiterated.
That notwithstanding, he said the passage of the RTI bill which was laid before Parliament in March this year “was long overdue.”
However, he warned against attempt to stampede Parliament into passing the Bill observing that Consideration of bills such as the RTI needs a lot of time to avoid mistakes.
“That’s where you can make and unmake the laws. So, if you don’t take your time because pressure seem to be coming from all corners of the society, and you decide to rush the bill into a law, you may end up making a lot of mistakes which cannot be corrected until the whole law is holistically reviewed or amended,” he said.
As it stands now, the RTI bill is likely to be passed next year and according to the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu the first two weeks of Parliament’s meeting would be set aside to pass the RTI Bill into Law should it fail to do so before it rises on Saturday 22 December.
Speaking at a dialogue between the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Civil Society, he said the House will try its best within the constraints of considering appropriations to pass the bill before it rises.
But if that fails, the House will dedicate the first two weeks of the next meeting which begins in January to work on finalizing the bill, the Majority leader who’s also the Parliamentary Affairs Minister added.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH
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