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18.05.2007 General News

Poor database will affect Information Bill

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The Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh, has said poor database systems in the country would constrain the implementation of the Freedom of Information Bill.

He said although Government was committed to implement the Bill to make information more accessible to the entire citizenry, effort to improve database systems should be a priority.

Mr Osei-Prempeh made the remark when a delegation of development partners and donor agencies called at the Ministry in Accra for policy dialogue on issues related to good governance and multi-national support.

The delegation led by Dr Mechthild Runger, Programme Manager of the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ), included others from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Netherlands Embassy and British Department for International Development (DFID).

According to Mr Osei-Prempeh, a draft of the bill presented to some Attorneys in the United Kingdom for inputs showed that Ghana's bill was more advanced than that in the UK.

He said there was the need to sensitise people on the bill to ensure that they enjoyed the right to information.

The Deputy Attorney General said although the Ministry acknowledged that the bill's implementation would be onerous, it was ready to accept the challenge.

He noted: "It took even the UK three years to implement their bill and they spent about 25 million dollars just for the first year."

Reacting to concerns raised as to whether the country had the necessary financial resources to support the bill, Mr Osei-Prempeh said: "We are not saying we want to reach the highest height at a go; at least we are now concerned with providing the basis for such implementation.”

He called for support from stakeholders and other donor agencies to ensure early implementation of the bill.

Dr Runger commended Government for initiating programmes not only to ensure judicial reforms, but also considering a bill that would ensure that the right to information was fully enjoyed.

She described the bill as good news to the media landscape to help enhance the work of journalists.

Source: GNA

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