The Coalition on the Right to Information (RTI Coalition) has welcomed the declaration by H.E President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, at the Africa Open Data Conference in Accra on July 20 2017, of his government’s resolve to collaborate with Parliament to speed up the passage of the Right to Information Bill, about the oldest in the hands of successive governments.
The RTI Coalition despite this assurance notes with disquiet that the Executive has recently introduced some bills to Parliament without the RTI Bill which has clearly been pushed to the back-burner.
The Coalition recalled similar assurances from H.E the Vice President, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia whilst speaking about the RTI Bill and the NPP government’s resolve to fight corruption at the Good Corporate Governance Initiative event held in Accra on Tuesday 31st January, 2017, stated categorically, that, “We are going to have to push Parliament to make the necessary amendments and if I had my way, it should be passed within the first 100 days of this government “.
The RTI Coalition also recalled that the Minister for Information on the occasion of the Inter-national Press Freedom Day (observed on 3rd May 2017) also made the declaration, that, “As per the calendar we have sent to Parliament, it is in there that in the May to July, 2017 Session of Parliament, the RTI Bill will be before them for debate and passage. It’s non-negotiable”
Whilst it is public knowledge that Parliament is scheduled to raise on 2nd August, 2017, the RTI Coalition notes with disappointment that the RTI Bill is missing on the calendar that is before Parliament and can only conclude that contrary to earlier assurances, the RTI Bill has been negotiated out as a non-priority bill
The importance of the RTI Legislation to the development and advancement of Democracy, Good Governance, Pro-bity and Accountability cannot be overemphasized. It is therefore difficult to observe that government has not found it necessary to prioritize its placement before Parliament in this session.
It is important to indicate that credibility problems keep lingering on for as long as each day passes without government pledges on the RTI legislation being redeemed.
The Coalition would like to emphasize that action on the passage of the RTI Bill can no longer be justifiably deferred or delayed if government is committed to, in the President’s own words “encourage citizens to hold the government accountable and ensure greater transparency”.
Ghana embraces sustainable mining practices
Government has begun rolling out measures to ensure proper conservation of the country’s biodiversity and safe guide the health of its populace through sustainable mining practices.
The initiative, according to the government, is to create a mining sector that harnesses the potential of small scale mining and to ensure environmentally friendly and socially responsible sector that is appreciated by all stakeholders including surrounding communities.
To achieve this objectives, The Ministry of Environment of Environment Science Technology and Innovation in collaboration with the Media Coalition Against Galamsey last week organised a four-day training workshop for the Media and Small Scale miners at the University of Mine and Technology in Tarkwa to educate them on sustainable mining practices.
In separate presentations to the media, there was a consensus by the various resource persons that the country has more to gain in its mining sector if sustainable mining was rigorously pursued.
Professor Daniel Mireku-Gyimah, a mining Engineer defended the government’s actions in relation to illegal mining activities in the country. He told the media that he was in support of the government’s decision to suspend small scale mining indefinitely because most of them started mining irresponsibly at a point. Prof. “At a point they started mining irresponsibly, using more machinery, attacking our water bodies and disrespecting our forests. So, the government has good reasons for suspending their operations”, he said.
He pointed out that even though it would be painful to put somebody’s business at risk, it was important to that things were done right. “But of cause it will be painful to put somebodies business on hold for that, but I think that person should be ready to reclaim the land that they have destroyed already and be ready to mine Properly.”
He was of the view that government is opening its arms to ensure that things are done in the right way.
He was supported by Prof. W.K Buah of the Minerals Department of UMaT who emphasized the need for all stakeholders to play their part in ensuring the preservation of Ghana’s environment. “Together we can think of what we need to do to safe guide our environment. I think they would be allowed to operate again. So I think it’s a move in the right direction.” He emphasised that “we all have to think of what we can do to get the minerals extracted in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.”
Prof. Buah also expressed fears that Small scale miners expose themselves to health dangers with their own operation, particularly as they use chemical such as mercury. He emphasized the need to continue to sensitize the miners on the dangers that these chemicals pose to their health and the need to adhere to safety precautions.