The Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) says the Health Ministry’s reply to JoyNews’ request for information on the Agenda 111 project smacks of lack of transparency.

Sulemana Braimah said the Ministry’s reply is unfortunate but not surprising.

“I am really surprised about the feedback from the Ministry of Health in relation to the information that you requested for,” he told Evans Mensah on Joy FM’s Top Story on Tuesday.

“I think that it comes down to either they not having adequate knowledge and capacity in terms of their role in the implementation of the law or it’s just that they continue to act according to the secrecy with which they have been operating over the years,” he added.

JoyNews Research Desk on February 11 in Pursuant to the RTI Act (2019), ACT 989, wrote to the Health Ministry seeking:

1. Copies of the policy or policies underpinning the project.

2. Detailed project proposal including feasibility studies and funding sources secured.

3. List of all districts where projects will be sited.

4. Detailed plan for commencement and completion of each of the projects.

5. Detailed plan for staffing and operation of each of the hospitals.

But the Ministry in a reply on Monday, March 21, said “Per our records, we do not have the information in our custody.”

This did not surprise Mr Braimah who noted that the MFWA has experienced similar instances in their course of work.

“Given the experience that we’ve had here in the foundation, through direct requests that are made by the Foundation at the national, regional and the district level and as you know also through the experiences of my colleagues who work on the Fourth Estate project.…for almost one year my colleague, Manasseh was engaging the Ministry of Education for data on the fumigation exercise during the peak of Covid-19 pandemic.

“Eventually, the Ministry indicated that those contracts were awarded by the Presidency so a different and separate request was made to the Presidency for the information, only for the Presidency to then write again to say no it is the Ghana Education Service that awarded the contract,” he cited.

According to him, as frustrating as these developments are, he believes they also speak to the opacity and lack of transparency in government dealings.

He added, “if indeed it’s not as a result of lack of transparency, it is also evidence of how messy government conducts its businesses when it comes to who is in charge of what.”

Meanwhile, a private legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini has explained that the Right to Information law mandates any institution which receives a request for information to make a referral to other institutions they deem fit to have the information sought for if they do not have the information.

He noted that per the law, the institution is also obligated to make a necessary inquiry to ascertain which other institution has the information requested and transfer the information sought to that institution in cases where they cannot provide the requested information.

According to him, the act by the Health Ministry is not the best and per the law, the Ministry’s action is gross misconduct punishable by a fine of ¢3,000 to ¢6,000 or a jail term not less than two years.

“This is not good at all. This Ministry ought to either have the information in its custody. If it doesn’t have it, it should have knowledge of where it is and then should do the referral or transfer of the application,” he added.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.