The Minister for Information, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has today given an account to parliament as to how the first year of the Right to Information(RTI) Act has been implemented.
According to the Minister, the Ministry of Information, which has the responsibility of ensuring that public institutions are adequately prepared and ready to deliver satisfactorily on their obligations under the Act, led the process for the planning and implementation of a Roadmap.
‘’This was done in consultation with major stakeholders, including the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications, the RTI Coalition, the Data Protection Commission, UNESCO Ghana, and the Heads of the Civil and Local Government Services’’ he stated.
Indicating that the stakeholders guided the formation and development of appropriate and standardized systems and a framework for implementation of the RTI Act aimed at avoiding breaches and ensuring uninterrupted operationalization.
Hon. Nkrumah said the Access to Information (ATI) Division was established and commissioned within the Information Services Department on July 17, 2020.
Adding that, the Division trains and deploys RTI Officers to MDAs to service access to information requests of the respective MDAs and provides back-end support to the RTI Officers on their day-to-day activities. The Division is also responsible for executing all other obligations of the Minister under the RTI Act.
He said at the beginning of the year 2020, 539 public institutions comprising 263 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and 260 Metropolitan, Municipal, District Assemblies (MMDAs), and 16 Regional Coordinating Councils were captured in the Ministry’s database as institutions required to implement the RTI Law within the country.
The sector Minister said, per Section 3(1) of the RTI Act, each public institution is required to compile and publish an information manual to document the nature and scope of information that may be accessed by an applicant within that institution. Mr. Speaker, in the first year of implementation, a total of 285 public institutions were found to have complied with this requirement.
‘’A total of two hundred and nineteen (219) public institutions submitted their annual reports on RTI activities within their respective institutions. An analysis of these reports revealed that eighty-five (85) requests for information were received and processed in thirty-two (32) public institutions. Eighty-five percent (85%), that is Seventy-two (72) requests, were granted while others were deferred, transferred, referred, or declined in accordance with the Act.’’ he indicated.
Hon. Nkrumah said the implementation of the RTI Act in 2020 encountered some challenges including the impact of COVID-19, delays by public institutions in submitting required documents, transfers of designated officers resulting in the loss of institutional memory regarding the RTI Act, and non-compliance by some public institutions.
Noting that in addressing these and building on the gains made, the Ministry, through the ATI Division of the ISD has outlined the following activities for subsequent years of implementation in continuation of in-person training.
They will further engage with Heads and frontline staff of Public Institutions on compliance, staffing all information units with dedicated Information Officers from the Access to Information Division of the ISD, submit a Legislative Instrument to be laid before Parliament.
Other measures he spoke on to mitigate the challenges are embarking on a Nationwide Public Education Campaign on RTI and support Parliament to approve the proposed fees and charges for accessing information.
Below is the full statement :