The Right To Information (RTI) Act, (Act 970), has become law in Ghana after the Act received presidential assent today, Tuesday, 21 May 2019.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in the company of the Chief of Staff, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei Opare, appended his signature to the Act at about 11: 40 a.m. in his office at the Jubilee House, the seat of Ghana's presidency.
Parliament passed the Right to Information (RTI) Bill on 26 March 2019. The RTI Act will be implemented in January 2020 now that it has become law.
The RTI law will pave the way for the operationalisation of the constitutional right to information held by public institutions as well as some private organisations, subject to exemptions that are necessary and consistent with the protection of the public interest in a democratic society.
The Act, also seeks to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs and also provides for related matters. The RTI Act was first drafted in 1999, reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 but was only presented to Parliament in 2010. But it could not be passed due to the many recommendations of amendments. It was brought back to the Sixth Parliament but could not be passed till the expiration of that Parliament on 6 January 2016.
Moves to get the bill passed received increased momentum in 2017 following the formation of the Media Coalition on RTI. The Coalition, with support from other civil society organisations in the past eleven months, piled pressure on Parliament to get the Bill passed.
In a brief address before the signing, President Akufo-Addo congratulated the 7th Parliament of the fourth republic for its courage in passing the RTI bill into law.
The purpose of the Act, as set out in its preamble, the President said: "Is to provide for the implementation of constitutional rights to information held by any public institution and to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public affairs".
"Properly applied, it should enhance the quality of governance in our country, and provide a critical tool in the fight against corruption in public life", President Akufo-Addo said.
Addressing the issue of when the Act comes into full effect, the President said: "Parliament has quite rightly provided that the Act should come into effect the next financial year, January 2020 because there are financial consequences in the implementation of the law in order to give the public treasury the opportunity to make the necessary allocations to enable the Act to be effective".