The Minister for Information, Mr. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, has revealed that some public institutions are not helping with the successful implementation of the Right to Information (RTI) Law.
According to Mr Oppong Nkrumah, these institutions reject Information Officers who are seconded to their various institutions. Two of such institutions, the Minister mentioned, are the Health Facilities Regulations Agency (HeFRA) and the KETA Municipal Assembly.
He noted that because of their refusal to work with Information Officers, these institutions are unable to grant access to request for information from the public and have been made to pay penalties for it.
He said HeFRA was fined GH¢30,000 for non-compliance while Keta was fined GH¢20,000 for the same offence.
“We need a lot more corporations from public institutions. There are many public institutions that have rejected Information Officers that have been recommended or seconded to come and assist them.
“In some instances you find out that the public institutions that get into trouble are the institutions that rejected Information Officers when we posted them there and they end up being subject of administrative penalties…We have institutions for example HeFRA, a penalty of GH¢30,000 was imposed because they were not complying with the orders of the Commission…Keta Municipal, they rejected the information officers that we posted… they were fined about GH¢20,000.”
Mr Oppong Nkrumah made these revelations at a press conference organised by his outfit in Accra yesterday.
The presser was to brief the media on the progress made so far with regards to the implementation of RTI.
Aside HeFRA and Keta, Mr. Oppong Nkrumah also indicated that some Ministers and heads of Institutions have been subjects of penalties because of non-compliance
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah said the Commission has the power to levy any institution that refuses to comply with the law. He, therefore, appealed to institutions to help the RTIC implement the law by accepting the Information Officers posted to them.
He said the more reason they should accept the information officers is because their salaries are paid by Information Services Department and not the Institutions they have been seconded to work with.
“So I want to take advantage of this briefing to send a message out there that the Commission has the full powers backed by law to levy the necessary penalties on persons who do not comply.
“We have some cooperation but we need a lot more cooperation because when we send the officers to you, you don’t pay the officer, we pay them from ISD,” Mr. Oppong Nkrumah said.
Progress so far
Minister Oppong Nkrumah indicated yesterday that since the law was set in motion in 2020, about 1000 requests have so far been made. He said in 2020, 23 requests were made while 247 were made in 2021 and 783 in 2022.
On the region that recorded the highest request, the Minister noted that the Greater Accra region topped the chart with 87% request while the Ashanti region comes second with 9%. The Bono and Western regions followed with 1.28% and 1.28 % each, while the Eastern and Volta regions also recorded 0.51% each. The Central, Savannah, Oti and Upper East regions recorded 0.38, 0.26, 0.13% and 0.13% respectively, while the remaining regions made no request.
Status of Request
Speaking on the status of the requests made so far, the Minister noted that out of the 783 requests, which were made in 2020 about 663 were granted while the rest were under a review process at the RTIC.
RTI working but more has to be done
Based on above statistics the Minister noted that the implementation of the RTI law has so far been successful.
He, however, noted that the Ministry and the commission wants to achieve a 100 percent success rate and has as a result, put some new measures in place to realize that dream.
Mr. Oppong Nkrumah said ministry through the Access to Information (ATI) division and in consultation with the RTI Commission is working to operationalise an Online Records Management System (ORMS) to enable applicants to apply for information online, aid information officers in keeping accurate records, and increase efficiency.
The Minister also said RTI Commission satellite offices will soon be established in Kumasi and Sunyani to make the Commission’s work effective.
That aside, he said the Ministry would also continue its sensitization initiative to ensure that people especially heads of institutions grasp the RTI concept well.
He also indicated that the Ministry and it partners will do well to populate institutions who fall under the RTI with information officers so that the work can be done smoothly and efficiently.
The Right to Information Act is a law passed by Ghana’s Parliament on March 26, 2019 to outline the procedure by which the Right to Information, which was promulgated in the 1992 Constitution can be accessed.