Ghana

Publish SML Report – President directs

President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yes­terday caused to be released to the public the KPMG report on Strategic Mobilisation Limited weeks after declining the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s request to be given same.

According to a release issued in Accra yesterday and signed by the Director of Communications at the Presidency, Mr Eugene Arhin, a copy of the report could be accessed from the website of the Presidency- www.presidency.gov.gh.

The statement explained that on April 24, this year, the Pres­ident received a request from MFWA under section 18 of the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989) (RTI Act), for a copy of the KPMG report on the contracts and transactions be­tween Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and SML to be released to them.

However, bearing in mind provisions of the RTI Act, particularly section 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i) of the Act, the President denied the request by MFWA.

The statement explained that the decision to decline the re­quest was because the KPMG re­port constituted matters exempt under section 5 of the RTI Act which states that “Information is exempt from disclosure where the information is prepared for submission or has been sub­mitted to the President or Vice President for consideration or contains matters the disclosure of which would reveal informa­tion concerning opinion, advice, deliberation, recommendation, minutes or consultation made or given to the President or Vice President and is likely to under­mine the deliberative process on the part of the President or Vice President.”

Apart from this, the statement also explained that there had been judicial pronouncement, in a case involving MFWA which emphasised that a request which falls within the categories of information exempt under RTI Act could be lawfully declined.

The statement said “The KPMG report comprises opinions, advice, deliberations, and recommendations that are integral to the President’s delib­erative process and, therefore, qualifies as exempt information under section 5 (1) (a) and (b) (i) of the RTI Act.”

To this end, the Office of the President was justified in turning down the request from MFWA for a copy of the report.

The state said “It is import­ant to recount that, even before the request from MFWA, the President had, on April 24, 2024, caused to be published a detailed press statement outlining KP­MG’s findings and recommen­dations, as well as his directives to the Ministry of Finance and GRA.”

The statement further noted that the Office of the Presi­dent reiterates the necessity for those who file applications and requests under the RTI Act to have a thorough understanding of its provisions.

“It is vital to appreciate that the legal framework for access to information includes safeguards intended to protect the sanctity of decision-making at the high­est levels of government, which must not be compromised or misused in the pursuit of access to information,” it said.

Despite the decline, the statement said in the interest of full transparency in governance, openness, and honesty with the public, the President had decided to waive the privilege under section 5 of the RTI Act and has directed the full report to be published.

 BY CLIFF EKUFUL

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