ATI Bill arrives

Parliament has passed the Access to Information (ATI) Bill after it went through the third reading yesterday.

The bill now awaits presidential assent after passing all stages in the House.

Minister of Justice Mulambo Haimbe said progress of the ATI legislation shows governments commitment to the rule of law.

The bill was extensively debated at the second reading stage before it later passed the committee stage, which was chaired by the First Deputy Speaker, Malungo Chisangano.

Minister of information and Media Cornelius Mweetwa told the House that all fears that deterred progress of the proposed law by the previous regimes have been addressed.

Mr. Mweetwa said the New Dawn administration is anchored on rule of law, good governance, accountability and transparency.

He said the UPND administration is not worried that the public would be able to know its transactions.

“Government has carefully considered the fears and due attention has been taken to address the fears in the current bill, Mr Mweetwa said.

He said the bill, once enacted is poised to help the fight against corruption and ensure public resources benefit all citizens and not a few individuals in privileged government positions.

Mr Mweetwa said stakeholders were widely consulted before the bill was taken to Parliament.

The bill was further debated with most members of the Parliament (MPs) supporting its enactment.

However, Kamfinsa MP Christopher Kang’ombe raised concerns on some limitation clauses in the bill, which he said would dilute the ATI law.

Mr. Kang’ombe said some sections of the bill are at variance with each other with regard to exemptions, citing sections 22 and 24.

Section 22 highlights the disclosure of information where the public outweighs the harm to the interest protected under the relevant limitation of the right to access information, while Section 24 limits the disclosure of information in specific situations such as trade secrets or information is likely to cause harm to the commercial or financial interests of the information holder, among others.

“Section 24 needs to be reviewed and re-casted to ensure that citizens have access to specific information,” he said.

Nkana MP Binwell Mpundu called for the continued refining of the ATI Bill, which he said is far from being perfect.

 

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