Ghanaians to pay for cost of translated information under RTI

By
Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA

Accra, Sept.12, GNA –
Mr Ben Abdallah Banda, Chairperson of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs, says applicants who may request for information in
translated language of their choice when the Right to Information Law comes on
stream next year would pay for the cost of translation.

He said for
instance, if someone demanded that information requested from RTI information
officer should be translated into French or Twi, the applicant would bear the
cost of translation.

Mr Abdallah Banda,
who is the Member of Parliament for Offinso South, told journalists during a
training workshop for Chief Directors and Regional Coordinating Directors in
Accra ahead of the operationalization of the RTI Law in January 2020.

He said the RTI law
required government to proactively provide strategic information to the public
without necessarily waiting for someone to apply for it.

However, he said
there were certain information that was exempted from being given out to the
public or classified and that exemption was grounded within the RTI law.

Mr Abdallah Banda
said any law that authorised release of information to the public that
contradicted the RTI law, the RTI law will always reign supreme.

Mr Kojo Oppong
Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, for his part, said 600 information units
would be established across the country, while information officers would be
appointed to manage them for the implementation of the Right to Information Act
in January next year.

The information
officers would be trained on the RTI law and the Data Protection Law so that
they would meet the demands of applicants who might request for information.

The participants for
the workshop were drawn from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs)
across the country and taken through data mapping exercise, basic rudiments of
the Data Protection Law and setting up of information units.

The RTI law seeks to
give effect to Article 21 (1) (f) of the 1992 Constitution which states that
“All persons shall have the right to information subject to such
qualifications and laws as are necessary for a democratic society”.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah
said the training would enable the participants to be abreast of the new law
and support the government’s implementation drive.

He stated that
government would equip the information units with the requisite equipment in
order for them to deliver on their mandates.

He said the cost of
the operationalisation of the law had been forwarded to the Ministry of Finance
for validation to ensure timely release of funds to the various information
units.

The Minister said a
test run would be conducted in December this year, to assess the readiness of
the various information units and personnel before the actual implementation in
January 2020.

Mr Felix Chaahaah,
the Volta Regional Coordinating Director, who is also a participant at the
workshop, in an interview with the media, said the training had been beneficial
and believed it would enhance accountability and transparency of the public
service.

He expressed
optimism that the manual records of the various ministries, departments and
agencies would be digitised before January next year, so that information
requested by the public could be released in its soft copy.

He said frantic
efforts were under way to equip the information units with computers and other
facilities, in order to serve the public effectively.

GNA

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