Gov’t to establish 600 information units to operationalise the RTI law

By Godwill Arthur-Mensah,GNA

Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, the Minister of Information, has 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.

Mr Oppong
Nkrumah announced this in Accra on Wednesday at a capacity-building workshop
for Chief Directors and Regional Coordinating Directors on the RTI law towards
its operationalisation in January 2020.

participants 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 with 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 Ben Abdallah
Banda, Chairperson of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, for his part, said the RTI law required Government pro- actively
provide strategic information to the public without necessarily waiting for
someone to apply for it.

However, he
said there were certain information that were exempted from the public domain,
explaining that such exemption was grounded within the RTI Act.

Mr Abdallah
Banda, who is also the Member of Parliament for Offinso South, said information
pertaining to any public institutions or entities undertaking public projects
were supposed to be given out to the public, except that, that information was
classified under the law.

He said any law
concerning release of information that contradicted the provisions in the RTI
Act, the RTI law will always reign supreme.

Mr Abdallah
Banda explained that a provision had been made for translation of information
requested by an applicant into a suitable language of his or her choice, but
the applicant was supposed to bear the cost of translation.

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.


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