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Parliament to Pass Right to Information before 2013?

The Rights to Information Bill (RTI), which was laid before Parliament in February, 20I0, has generated controversy, with the RTI Coalition blaming Parliament for feet-dragging in passing the bill into law.
There had been a lot of media bashing against the august House recently after the Majority Leader Mr Cletus Apul Avoka told an Accra-based FM station that the House gave preference to the passing of the Petroleum Revenue Management, the Petroleum Commission and the Presidential (Transition) bills last year as against the RTI due to the urgency that was attached to those bills.

But addressing the media in Parliament Wednesday, Mr Avoka debunked the assertion by the civil society and rather blamed the RTI Coalition for failing to submit the expert legal opinion on the bill that it was commissioned to do. He, however, assured Ghanaians that the House was committed to passing the bill into law before the lifespan of this Parliament expires on January 6, 2013.

“Contrary to the perception that the House is dragging its feet towards passing the bill into law, Parliament is doing what it can to provide a solid law that can stand the test of time”.
“Let me also indicate to you that the government is also committed to the bill and has not done anything to suggest that it is not interested in the bill since it was presented to the House”.

According to him, since the country had at that time started commercial production of oil there was an urgent need for a legal framework to be put in place on how revenue accruing from the oil should be used.
Mr Avoka said the civil society and an Accra-based newspaper which published their concerns took him out of context when he stated that the House gave the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, the Petroleum Commission and the Presidential (Transition) Bill a priority.

He said the House had shown its commitment to pass the bill by organising regional fora, under the sponsorship of the World Bank, to collate views from the general public. Those fora, according to him, were held in Tamale, Kumasi, Koforidua, Ho, Takoradi and Accra in addition to the gathering of information from other countries for best practices. He said that all those steps were taken because the civil society prevailed on Parliament to tread cautiously and allow them to have copies in order to make inputs before passing the bill due to its importance to the society.

Mr Avoka explained that before the House went on recess in March, this year, the Joint Committee on Communication and Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs organised a workshop to wrap up discussion on the bill. He said now that the wrap-up workshop had been done, what was left was for the joint committee to write its report taking into consideration suggestions made by the general public and the civil society and present same to the House for debate. He said during the wrap-up meeting the coalition of NGOs on the bill was to present proposals aimed at beefing up the bill but as of now they had failed to do so.

Mr Avoka said even at that meeting, the World Bank indicated its readiness to sponsor a trip by the leadership of the joint committee to some of the countries that had already passed the RTI to enrich the quality of the bill.
“Against this background it is unfair for people to criticise Parliament that it has delayed in passing the bill into law. I find these criticisms quite unfortunate”.

He promised that within the next two or three weeks, the report of the joint committee would be presented to the plenary for it to be taken through its second reading stage.

“Parliament has a tight schedule, this is an election year, but within the time constraints, we will work hard to pass the bill before this Parliament is dissolved”, he assured. Responding to Mr Avoka’s concerns, however, the Convener of the RTI Coalition, Nana Oye Lithur, said it was the responsibility of Parliament to pass bills, adding that Mr Avoka could not, therefore, “pass the buck”. “These are excuses that he cannot run away from. It is his responsibility as the Majority Leader to lead Parliament to pass bills into laws”.

She questioned why Mr Avoka did not hide behind excuses to delay the passing of the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, the Petroleum Commission Bill and the Presidential (Transition) Bill. She said the coalition had supported the bill right from its drafting stage till now because it was committed to transparency in the governance process. Nana Lithur explained that the World Bank (Ghana Office) commissioned a representative of the coalition to draft an expert legal opinion on the contentious clauses in the bill.

That, according to her, had been completed and submitted to the World Bank, adding that the coalition would, therefore, seek the bank’s authorisation to submit the expert legal opinion to Parliament.
“We will continue to support Parliament to pass the bill because it is in the interest of the country”, she said.

graphic.com.gh

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Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Issues!

 

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Ghana Is Counting- Get Counted!

Dr. Grace Bediako (Government Statistician)

Before the advent of a population census by the British Administration, our local chiefs used to count their subjects at specific periods. Population counting in Ghana started in 1891 with a population of 764,185. For all things being equal; Ghana conducts Censuses at a ten (10) years interval, but these were confined to the colony. It was not until 1921 that the exercise was extended to cover the entire area of modern Ghana but was interrupted in 1941 as a result of the 2nd world war and resumed in 1948, the last count in pre-independent Ghana. Since then, there have been four post-independent censuses (1960, 1970, 2984, and 2000).

CENSUS YEARS IN GHANA AND CORRESPONDING POPULATION

CENSUS YEAR POPULATION
1921 2.3 million
1931 3.2 million
1948 4.1 million
1960 6.7 million
1970 8.6 million
1984 12.3 million
2000 18.9 million

Source: GSS, 2005 Population Data Analysis Report, Vol. 1, Table 1.1, p.3

The 2010 Census will be the 5th Census to be carried out in the country since Ghana’s independence in 1957. The Population and Housing Census will be the second time Ghana will be conducting a Population and Housing Census as one operation. This will give us the total number of persons and housing types in every Ghanaian town or village settlement. Statistical Service Law, 1985 (PNDCL 135) empowers the Government Statistician to conduct statistical surveys and any Census in Ghana. The Census takes of on the 26th of September 2010.

I will advice you take great note of the following important tit-bits:

Only the head of a household (a person with direct social and economic responsibility for the members of the household) or any responsible adult of the household qualifies to be interviewed in the 2010 Census, the head will answer on behalf of the members, so it’s best for heads of households to know some basic information on members of their household, e.g. Age, Date and Place of Birth, Educational Status, Employment Status, Actual type of work the person does.

All persons (Ghanaians and Non-Ghanaians) in the country at the Census Night will be enumerated, but everyone will be interviewed on the same day, the enumeration/counting exercise is two weeks, if your household isn’t counted during the period, let the Census Officials know through these hotlines provided: 0289553888 and 0289553889.

No need to travel to one’s hometown to be counted for the Population and Housing Census (PHC) 2010, everyone must be counted at their actual place of stay as much as possible- it will enable government and providers of amenities like electricity and water to know the kind and number of people they are dealing with. Otherwise there will be wrong impression with the distribution of the population, “quality data drives good decision making”. Also note, you will be enumerated where you spent the Census Night (12 am, this is a reference point to which all information collected will be referred to. This is due to the snap-shot nature of the census). Please, respondents should cooperate with enumerators and give accurate Information to Census officials; they are under oath to keep all information they receive from respondents, as Confidential.

About five-thousand (50,000) field workers will be dispatched to all parts of the country to conduct interviews of households and compile the population and basic characteristics of residential institutions, such as boarding houses, hotels, hospitals, prisons, etc.

The ensure you are dealing with a genuine census officer check for an identification Card (ID), a census-customized T-shirt and a letter of introduction, if one is still in doubt please call the numbers provided above.

Note, from the history of Census in Ghana, there has never been any time when census data has been used for taxation. Everybody counts including the physically challenged, even the bed-ridden, so don’t hide them- Ghana can only plan better for them if their numbers are known. People traveling, those who will sleep in hotels, motels and the other rest places will enumerated on the Census night. Same applies to Students in boarding Schools, Colleges and Universities, Patients in hospitals, Prisoners, Security staff at border posts, and Out-door sleepers.

If you are still asking, “What at all will our nation derive from the Census?” I would love you listen good;

  • The Census would fulfill international requirements for data availability to track the nation’s progress.
  • The Census would enable us Update data on demographic and socio economic characteristics at the national, regional and district levels of our nation.
  • Data accrued will enable equitable distribution of resources and services at all levels.
  • It would provide basic data that can be used in the computation of indicators for tracking the process of poverty reduction programmes and other core targets of the economy including the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Thanks for reading this item, hope you enjoyed every bit of information. Kindly pass the information on and remember to be sincere and give the enumerators accurate information about yourself and household.

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Issues!

 

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