The Public Affairs Unit (PAU) of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) organized a one day training programme on the Right to Information Law, (Act 989) on Tuesday, 11th February, 2020 for some selected staff of the Ministry.
The training programme was aimed at equipping all frontline staff of the Ministry with requirements of the new law which took effect on Thursday, 2nd January, 2020.
In all, a total of 33 staff participated in the training including Deputy Directors, officers from the Secretariats of the Hon. Minister, Hon Deputy and the Chief Director. Others were from the PAU, the Client Service Unit (CSU), Account, Internal Audit, the Registry and the Reception.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Kizito Ballans, the Chief Director of the Ministry, welcomed staff to the meeting. He pointed out the relevance of the Right to Information Law (Act 989) and the need for the staff present to know how it functions and the transitional procedures for implementing it.
The Chief Director admonished participants to take the training session seriously since ignorance of the law is no excuse. He further asked the staff to change their attitude regarding the way and manner in which they release information to applicants because the RTI Law frowns on turning people away.
He however stressed that, the only Officer Mandated to release any information per the current Law is the RTI Officer.
Mr. Ballans reiterated how embarrassing it will be if someone walks into the Ministry and asks about the law and no staff is knowledgeable about it. He therefore encouraged staff to become abreast with its procedures and processes.
During the session, participants were enlightened on the Background of the RTI Law, the Objective of the law, the Linkage between the 1992 Constitution and RTI Law (Act 989), Exemptions in the Act (989), Procedures to access the law, Right of review (Appeal) in the Law , and the Transitional arrangements and Procedures for the roll out.
The training was crowned with interactive sessions where participants had the chance to seek further clarifications on some points raised by the resource persons and also asked questions.
Some participants raised concerns on the exemptions in Sections 5 – 17 in (Act 989), saying some exemptions should be reconsidered since they provide essential information of public interest.
In addition, the lack of a security code on the application form was queried since this does not allow for effective tracking of the forms for auditing purposes.
A participant also wondered whether or not the lack of a Tax Identification Number (TIN) should prevent one from applying for information under the law.
On the whole, the training on the Right to Information Law, (Act 989) was very successful. Participants commended management for the educative, informative and insightful session on the new law. According to them, the presentations were very excellent with practical and realistic examples from the resource persons.
The resource persons for the training programme were, Rev. Charlotte Hanson, Head of PAU and the Assistant Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Osei-Opoku Gyamfi.