The Executive Secretary of the Right to Information Commission, Yaw Sarpong Boateng, has urged public institutions to establish an information unit to promptly facilitate citizens’ access to information.
Such a unit, he said, should be headed by an information officer to help generate accurate information for the public when needed.
“Such a unit would also help the institutions to generate, process, maintain and preserve information which is accurate and authentic” he said.
He was speaking at a forum to engage heads of public institutions, private institutions, opinion leaders, civil society organisations and student bodies on what was expected of them in the implementation of Act 989 in Cape Coast last Tuesday.
The Executive Secretary stated that the right to information law must encourage members of the public to speak up and ask questions from state institutions to help firm up the country’s democracy.
He indicated that failure by an information officer or public officer to perform a function authorised by the Act where the occasion arose to perform that function constituted a gross misconduct.
He further said where an application for access to particular information was received by a public institution, the information officer should take a decision on the application and send a written notice to the applicant within 14 days from the date of receipt of the application.
The Right to Information Act, 2019, Act 989 was passed by the Parliament of Ghana in 2019, and assented to by the President the same year to give constitutional right to access to information held by public institutions.
The RTI Act aims to promote transparency and accountability by empowering people to access information on central and local governments as well as non-governmental organisations which are publicly funded.
Under the Right to Information Act 2019 (Act 989), people’s right to access information is limited to public institutions.
Necessary governance tool
Mr Sarpong said the Act was a necessary tool in the government’s effort to attain good governance and sustainable development.
He added that it was the responsibility of public institutions in respect of access to information to compile and publish up-to-date information in the form of a manual every year.
Central Regional Minister
For her part, the Central Regional Minister, Justina Marigold Assan, commended the commission for taking the decision to educate the general public and institutions on the Act, saying it would promote and enrich the country’s democratic tenets.
Some participants said some public officials and institutions still did not allow people to access information in their institutions.
participants also said they needed more education on how to access information and called for more education on the Act.