The Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) has been slapped with ¢200,000 fine by the Right to Information (RTI) Commission for failing to comply with directives to provide access to information.
The Commission’s decision came in response to a letter from the Managing Director of GACL, Mrs Pamela Djamson-Tettey dated September 7, 2023.
The MD had requested a one-week extension to gather and submit information to JoyNews’ Head of Research, Raymond Acquah, as directed by the Commission.
In a letter dated September 20, 2023, with reference number RTIG/RF/voL4/856, the Commission expressed its dissatisfaction with GACL’s delay in providing the requested information.
The Commission had previously issued directives on February 3, 2023, and February 16, 2023, specifying the format in which the information should be submitted, and emphasized that the information was already available.
The Commission, while acknowledging the principle of fairness, granted GACL a one-week extension as requested.
However, it firmly rejected GACL’s appeal for the waiver of the administrative penalty of ¢200,000 imposed by the Commission in a letter dated August 23, 2023.
The Commission justified its decision by highlighting the lack of cooperation from GACL in complying with their earlier directives.
The Commission viewed this as a deliberate attempt to hinder the implementation of the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989), which grants the Commission the authority to impose administrative penalties on entities that fail to comply with their obligations under the Act.
In the letter signed by Executive Secretary Yaw Sarpong Boateng, the Commission stated that it does not have the power to waive the already imposed penalty of ¢200000 and advised GACL to make the payment following the Commission’s directive.
The saga began when JoyNews requested access to the contract between GACL and Frontiers Healthcare Services, which oversees COVID-19 testing at the airport.
However, GACL refused to disclose this information, citing Section 10 of the Right to Information Act, 2019 (Act 989), which allows for exemptions when certain conditions are met.
GACL argued that the contract contained information exempt from disclosure, such as trade secrets and financial data with potential monetary value.
Furthermore, GACL stated that disclosing this information could harm the financial interests of the state, disrupt business or trade, and potentially benefit or harm specific individuals by providing advanced knowledge of future economic measures.
Additionally, they claimed that some information related to the contract award process and revenue generated from testing was not in their possession.
JoyNews challenged this stance, contending that the requested information did not fall under the broad exemptions outlined in Section 10 of the RTI law.
The Right to Information Commission intervened and, after a thorough review, communicated its decision to GACL in a letter dated February 3, 2023.
The Commission’s findings contradicted GACL’s position, asserting that the contract had already been executed and did not possess monetary or potential monetary value to the state.
The Commission further determined that disclosing the requested information would not damage the financial interests of the state.
Consequently, the Commission issued a directive to GACL, compelling them to release not only the Frontiers contract but also a summary of procurement details related to the GACL and Frontiers Healthcare Services Ltd transaction, excluding tax information and evaluative processes.
Additionally, GACL is required to provide information on the total revenue generated from Covid-19 testing at the airport since the inception of the agreement with Frontiers, along with the amounts earned by Frontiers Health Services and the government from these operations.