MR SECOND DEPUTY SPEAKER
HonMembers, with reference to the Votes andProceedings of 7th June, 2016, we took adecision on this matter, on clause 21, onpage 14, if I can refresh your memory, weinserted the following: “Where an application for access ismade and the public institution towhich the application is made doesnot have the information in itscustody, the information officershall, within a period of not morethan ten working days: (a) make the necessary enquiryto establish whether any otherpublic institution has theinformation;
Mr Speaker, havingheard the amendment to clause 21, I amtempted to think that, the amendment theyare seeking now is accurate, because it isnot as the original rendition. It is theoriginal rendition that made theamendment they are proposing look likeit was not possible. But just to say that in order to make itclearer just as they did in clause 21, I wouldlike to further propose, with theconcurrence of the Hon Vice Chairman, ifthe fourteen days could be made fourteenworking days, just as they have done withthe ten working days.
I am toldthe Question has already been put, soChairman of the Committee, (iv)?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 23, subclause (2), paragraph (c),delete. We believe that, it does not addanything. It is superfluous.
Mr Speaker, from thepreceding paragraphs, especially,paragraph 21, when the application wouldbe transferred to another institution thathas the information, the designated officerwould have to inform the applicant statingthe reason for the transfer and then theinstitution in which the transfer is made. Mr Speaker, once that information isgiven in the notice, there is no need statingunder clause 23 that this particularapplication was a transfer application tothat particular agency, because theapplicant would already know that thiswas an application transferred from theagency that he submitted the applicationto. So, in giving the notice to the personby the agency that has the information,there is no need indicating that this was atransfer application. That is why we are of the view that,the (c) here is superfluous and should bedeleted. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 23, subclause (2), paragraph (d),delete. It is for the same reason that we aredeleting the (d) as was in the (c). Question put and amendment to.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 23, subclause (3), paragraph (a),delete and insert the following: “the period within which the accesswill be given and the period shallnot be more than fourteen days.” In the amendment, it says fourteendays, but because of consistency, I movethat we make it fourteen working days, sothat we are consistent.
Hon ViceChairman, how would the full sentenceread?
The full sentence would read: “the period within which the accesswill be given and the period shallnot be more than fourteen workingdays.” Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move --
Mr Speaker,clause 23 (3) provides; “where theinformation officer decides to give access,the notice shall state.” Mr Speaker, my worry is whether apartfrom the stated areas where informationcould be withheld, the information officercould decide not to grant access, becauseclause 23 (3) provides “where theinformation officer decides to giveaccess…”, as if outside the exclusionzone, he could decide to give or not togive access. That is my worry.
Mr Speaker, I do not see whymy Senior Colleague should be worriedabout it. This is because, it is clear thatthere are two options opened to theinformation officer: Whether to giveaccess or not. He is mandated to givereasons why he would not give access,and that would include the exemption thatthe law gives. Obviously, there would be a time whenhe may decide not to give access. That isall we are talking about.
Mr Speaker,the application to access information maybe refused on stated grounds which havebeen stated in the Bill. Now, clause 23 (3) is on the decisionon any application. Mr Speaker, clause 23(3) says: “Where the information officerdecides to give access…” It is as if he holds the power to decideoutside the stated grounds to grantaccess or not. So, I think that “whereinformation is given, the notice shall stateand not say that: “Where the information officerdecides to give access…” That will connote that, outside thestated grounds, he still has the discretionto grant or not to grant access.
Mr Speaker, it is clear fromthe Bill that, the information officer candecide not to grant access, and that is whythere are remedies under the law. If aperson thinks access has unjustifiablybeen denied, there is a procedure throughthe court to either compel him to give theaccess or affirm the fact that informationcannot be available. So, the decision on whether theinformation officer can decide not to giveaccess is backed by law; he can. He mayexercise that discretion unjustifiably, andif one so feels, the remedies are there toget the information.
HonChairman, if he does not have a discretion,can he exercise it? You said he can exercisethe discretion unjustifiably. This isbecause if he does not have a discretion,then it is unlawful, simple. Is it not anexercise of discretion?
Mr Speaker, whenyou read clause 23 critically, there is spacefor a person to be able to take a decision.
Onwhether to give information or not?
“The notice shall state where accessto only a part of the information canbe given and the reason for givingonly a part”. Mr Speaker, this means that, theinformation officer has a lot of discretion.It is supposed to be within the law. This isbecause there are exemption clauses onwhat cannot be given. So, when anapplication is made, the officer has adiscretion to look at what are exemptedand what are not, to be able to tell theones exempted and those that are not orpart of it. Mr Speaker, I would want to say that,to make it easier and clearer, the renditionbeing proposed by the Hon MinorityLeader takes away all doubts. Where hesays, “where information is to be given....”It takes away the possibility of peoplethinking that, they can abuse theinterpretation that they have.
HonMuntaka, when you have the power totake a decision, it does not necessarilyconnote the power that you have adiscretion. I would give you an example,the Ghana Investment Promotion Council(GIPC) Act.
Mr Speaker, to saveyour breath I agree -- [Laughter.] Aperson cannot decide to pick and choose.This is because that decision has to begrounded in law.
Mr Speaker, I am tryingto follow the Hon Chairman's amendment.All these discussions that have gone onin the last ten minutes do not bear on whatis on the Order Paper. If we go that way, itwould be difficult for us to do it right. I thought we were on clause 2 (2).
What ishappening is that, we have moved on andwe have been brought back. But we arerelaxing the rules because of theimportance we have attached to the Rightto Information Bill, 2013. We have movedon, but what happened was that, we havebeen brought back by the Hon MinorityLeader.
Mr Speaker, in thediscussion, the Hon Member mentionedsubclause (3), so, I thought when we getthere, we can deal with it. Right now, weare on clause 23 (2), and they arediscussing subclause (3). You just ruled on item (IV), and we aregoing to item (V), which is still subclause2 -- [Interruption] -- He did not finishitem (V), unless I am mistaken.
HonMember, we have passed item (V); we areon item (VI).
I did not hear you callit.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, clause 23 (3), delete, “Where theinformation officer decides to giveaccess…” In its place substitute , “Wheninformation is to be given”.
“Where information is to be given,the notice shall state…” That will cure the mischief. Mr Speaker,it is being improved further. So, it will read: “Where information is to be given --
Mr Speaker, I wasnot getting your attention. I realised thatyou were preoccupied.
I amcapable of multitasking. So, continue. Iam multitasking and that was why whenyou kept quiet, I thought that you hadfinished. I was listening to you. Youwanted me to listen to you fully?Undivided attention?
Mr Speaker, I wantto have your eyeball. Mr Speaker, I proposed an amendment,that clause 23 (3), delete, “Where theinformation officer decides to giveaccess…” And in its place, substitute, “Whereinformation is to be given…” then thenotice shall follow. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
HonMember for Offinso South?
Thank you,Mr Speaker. I do not see any problem with thecurrent rendition of the Bill. This is becauseif you read the Bill in its totality, at anypoint in time that an application is broughtbefore the information officer or thedesignated officer, he or she must take adecision based on the application vis-a-vis the grounds on which the applicationmay be refused or granted. At a certain point in time, theInformation Officer may even have to takea decision if for instance, the informationthat the applicant is seeking for is exempt.The information officer would have tolook at the relevant law and decide or cometo a conclusion whether to grant theapplication or not. So, at any material pointin time, the information officer is vestedwith the authority to take a decision. I think that is the rationale behindclause 23 of the Bill. This is because, itpresupposes that, a decision has to betaken. Who takes it? It is the InformationOfficer. So, clause 23 (3), which says that:“where the Information Officer decides togive access…” does not necessarily meanthat the Information Officer is giving adecision based on his discretion. TheInformation Officer makes a decisionbased on the application brought beforehim, and on the relevant grounds, asstipulated within the Bill. So, I do not see any problem with thecurrent rendition of the Bill, therefore itmust not be disturbed.
Mr Speaker, Iequally do not see anything wrong withthe current rendition in the Bill. This isbecause clause 23 (1) itself states that theinformation officer shall take a decision.
Mr Speaker, Iwithdraw my amendment, so that we keepthe original rendition. --[Interruptions.]
Mr Speaker,based on clause 23 (1), one wouldappreciate the issue raised by the HonMember for Akwapim South. Mr Speaker -- [Interruption.]
Mr Speaker, I am the HonMember for Akwapim North.
Why do Ialways confuse Akwapim North withSouth? Mr Speaker, I meant the Hon Memberfor Akwapim North. Mr Speaker, the stated grounds forexclusion or a bar to access informationhave been provided for in the statute inthe law, I was just wondering if beyondthis stated grounds, the information officerstill has any discretion. They are statutorily provided for, sodoes the information officer still wield thatdiscretionary power to decide whether ornot to give access? This is because, they are provided for by the statute. That ismy worry, if it is the opinion of the Housethat because one person has to write, hewields the power to determine whether togrant access or not, then it should beunderstood in that way. Well, I may yield, but I think because itis statutorily provided for, the individualdoes not have any option, rather than tocomply. If it offends the statute; no! If itdoes not, so, it is granted by statute. Itdoes not lie within the competence of theinformation officer to say that beyond thisor outside this, he decides to grant accessor not to grant access. That is the fine point that I wanted toraise. Of course, I am subject to the opinionof plenary.
Mr Speaker, I was justdrawing my Leader's attention to the factthat, apart from clause 23 (1), he talkedabout, we have sub clauses (3) and (4)flowing, because we have not gonethrough the whole clause, that is why thereis confusion. This is because once a person takesthe decision to give or not to give, thensubclause (3) comes in to tell us that, if hetakes the decision, this is what happens;then subclause (4) would also tell us that,if he does not take the decision, that iswhat happens. They did not just stop there, they wentforward to subclause (5), which says thatif one fails to determine it within a certainperiod, then he must give reasons. Theydid not just end there, they went on tosubclause (6), to say that, if section 5 doesnot apply in certain areas-- So, if we finish reading the wholeclause, we would understand. I believethat the context in which it is now is allright. This is because for the first one, the Information Officer must make a decisionon the application and send it in a writtenform to the person within twenty oneworking days. Mr Speaker, then subclause (3) will tellyou that if he takes that decision to grantit, then this is what it should entail.Subclause (4) tells us that, if he does nottake that decision, then this is what itwould entail. Subclause (5) says that, ifhe fails to do that, within a certain period,then he must give reasons within a certainperiod, why he has not done that, andsince it is exempting the subclause (5) fromwhere it is transferred to another agency-- Mr Speaker, in my view, if we leave itlike this, it makes a lot of sense. I do notthink that it infringes on the clause. Inany case, if we want to take a decision, wewould not take it intoto, we would take itin conjunction with the whole Act, andwe are bound by the provisions of theAct. Other provisions of the Act wouldthen guide us on what to do or what notto do. I do not think we should worryourselves. The way it is, unless there isanother issue, it is all right.
HonMinority Leader, do you want me to putthe Question on your proposedamendment?
Mr Speaker,I have expressed my concerns, and if theopinion of plenary is that, we should takeit as it is, then I do not have any hard andfast position. This is because, I thoughtthat, this provides some discretion, wherediscretion should not be provided. But if our thinking is that, because ofoperational reasons we should have this resort, then I would bow to what plenarysays, even though I may disagree as anindividual.
HonKyei-Mensah-Bonsu, I am glad that youhave decided not to proceed. This isbecause, you were becoming like John theBaptist in this matter, a lone voice, cryingout in the wilderness. That does not meanthat you are wrong, because like Galileoproved many years ago, one man can beright, and the whole world, wrong. I am on your side, but unfortunately,with who I am, I cannot vote. But I agreewith you to a large extent.
Mr Speaker,can we listen to the Hon Deputy Attorney-General and Deputy Minister for Justice?This is because, I saw by his bodylanguage that, he was warming upspiritedly to join the fray.
Is that alast minute call, to try to apply for moretroops? I would put the Question, but we haveadded “working”, between “fourteen anddays”.
That is so, Mr Speaker.[Pause.]
Chairmanof the Committee, is that the case?
Mr Speaker, it is so. It shouldbe fourteen working days. Question put and amendment agreedto.
HonMembers, I have been advised that -- Hon Muntaka, I would be grateful ifyou give me your full attention.
Mr Speaker, I amsorry.
What isthe position?
Mr Speaker, theposition was that, we were going to stop.But where we have reached with clause23, I think it is better to finish with it beforewe go to the next Bill. We should try andfinish clause 23, then we move to the nextBill.
I was alsoof that view, but you would appreciate thefact that, with the Right to InformationBill, one clause takes a long time.
Mr Speaker, in thatsense, I think we would have to pausehere and take the other Bill. Dr A. A. Osei-- rose --
Mr Speaker, I knowthat we have passed that but the term:“fourteen working days” sounds weird tome. It is more than two weeks. Can the Chairman explain why it isfourteen working days? This is becauseit is almost three weeks.
Mr Speaker, Iam inclined to agree with my HonColleague that, the fourteen working daysis a bit of a long time. So, why not tenworking days? That would be about twoweeks. Ten working days would be idealinstead of fourteen.
Mr Speaker, the tenworking days seem more rationale thanfourteen working days. Why fourteen? That would be sevendays plus four days, including theweekends. Ten working days wouldamount to two weeks, so that it makessense. That is all I am saying. Ten working days would amount totwo weeks, so, that makes sense. That isall I am saying. Ten working days is twoweeks, but 14 working days is not eventhree weeks. It is almost three weeks shortof three days. It is inconsistent --[Interruption.] No! It is more than oneday. So, if you can accept 10 working days,then we know it is two weeks.
Mr Speaker, we have to lookat the totality of what we are doing. In thefirst instance, where they were talkingabout transfer, where the informationofficer is just to look at the document, takea quick decision, whether he has it orneeds to transfer it, we are giving him 10working days. Now, we are saying that, this is a pointwhere he has to sit down and make asubstantive decision on the application.So, we believe that, 14 working days,is allright. It is a little more than 10 workingdays and it should be enough for him tohave all the information and to work. Ibelieve with that at the back of our minds,we are talking about 14 working days.
Mr Speaker, forconsistency, it should be 15 working days.But 14 working days, there is noconsistency. If what you are saying is true,then I expect 15 working days. If what youare saying is true then for consistency,you are counting in terms of five. It shouldbe 15 working days just to be consistent,but to say 14 working days is not right.
Mr Speaker, I am only in forconsistency. It appears that in some parts, we say 10 or 14 days, and in some part, wesay 10 to 14 working days. It createsconfusion. If we are sticking to 14 days,let us make it 14 days. If 21 days, 21 daysand leave these working days and soforth. This is because ten days from, or 10 dayswithin, all have variable interpretations. Theuse of “from” and “on” makes a difference.The Hon Vice Chairman would agree, so,let us be more consistent -- [Interruption.]If it is “days”, then “days”; if it is“working days”, then “working days”.
That is exactly what we aretrying to do and that is why we are movingfrom 10 working days to 14 working days.
I am asking why youchose 10 days which is two different fivedays and the next one, you cut it by oneday? It does not make sense.
This isbecause we are curinga mischief. That mischief being that, if youwould just have to transfer, we do not giveyou the luxury of all the three weeks.
Hon Vice Chairman, youare not listening to my argument. You arepicking it in multiples of five and suddenly,you moved to multiples of five and fourdays. That is what I am saying. Hon Vice Chairman, multiples of five ismultiples of five. Let us be consistent. Inone case, you chose multiples of five. So,I am saying in the next case, stay with themultiples of five for consistency with thelaw. So it has to become 15 working days.
Mr Speaker, I disagreewith Hon Dr A. A. Osei. The differencebetween 14 working days and 15 workingdays after that, there are about three days-- [Interruption.] It is not one day, and Iwill explain to you. If you begin a working day fromMonday to Friday, that is five days, so itgives you one week of seven days. Thenext five working days would give youanother seven days. When you end at aThursday, which would have been 14working days, the person can now accessthe information on Friday. From what you are saying, if you add15 working days, which ends on Friday, itis Monday. So, you are adding Saturdayand Sunday. That gives you 21 daysinstead of 18 days.
We are talking aboutworking days.
Excuse me, that is what Iam saying. Do you get what I am saying?If I apply and you tell me that after 15working days, I actually get theinformation on the 21st or 22nd day. That iswhat I am saying but the other one is 18days.
There is no consistency.Working days are working days. Whetherit starts on Thursday or Monday, it is aworking day. Saturdays and Sundays arenot working days, so, it does not matter -- [Interruption.] No, it is right. A workingday is a working day, whether you starton Monday or Friday. When you startedwith multiples of five and then you go andstop it, it reduces logic. Maybe there is areason but it is not consistent.
Thankyou very much, Hon Members. Hon Muntaka, do you see why I saidthat if we proceed to the end of clause 23,we may have to do extended Sitting?
Mr Speaker, you areright; we should end the proceedings onthis for now.
On thatnote of 14 and 15 working days, we wouldbring this to an end while we continue thediscussion on the working days so thatnext time when we come, we would takethat into consideration. This brings us to the end of theConsideration Stage of the Right toInformation Bill, 2013 for today.
Mr Speaker, we begto take item number 12 which is on page52 of today's Order Paper.
Item 12on page 52 of the Order Paper -- theChartered Institute of Taxation Bill, 2014at the Consideration Stage.
BILLS -- CONSIDERATIONSTAGE
HonChairman, you fought hard and kept“Chartered”.
Mr Speaker, I can seeunder the memorandum, Hon Naana JaneOpoku-Agyeman, Minister for Education.She signed the memorandum. I do not seeher or any of her Deputy Ministers here.So, in the event that we are looking forpolicy direction, who are we going to ask?She has two Deputies but none is here --[Interruption] -- Where is the HonDeputy Minister? Mr Alex Kyeremeh -- rose --
The Hon Deputy Ministeris hiding at the far corner; I cannot seehim. I did not see him -- [Interruption.]Where is his seat? He rushed in. Mr Speaker, if the Hon Deputy Ministeris here, he should come forward and sitwith the Hon Chairman of the Committee.
HonDeputy Minister, you have to sit by theHon Chairman. It is useful if you sit bythe Hon Chairman so that if there is someconsultation and you can be -- Hon Deputy Minister, the Hon DeputyMinority Leader said you were hiding atthe back. Where were you hiding?
Mr Speaker, thatis my seat, so, I was not hiding anywhere.I am right in the Chamber.
Is thatyour seat?
Yes. I am right in theChamber. I am in the House to representmy Hon Minister.
Mr Speaker, does theHon Deputy Minister have the Bill? Doeshe know what we are talking about?[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, it is important because, ifhe came to meet the House, he would havea copy of the Bill and all these discussionswould not go on. I do not even think hehas a copy -- [Interruption.] Ask him.He picked somebody's Bill -- [Laughter.]
The Billis in his bosom.
Mr Speaker, theMinistry wants us to help them. We wantto see them as serious. You come ready tomeet the House, but if you are now pickingthe Bill from the Hon Chairman, you maysoon run into problems. We would wantto move this Bill forward. He just pickedthe Hon Chairman's copy. We have been working on the Bill for you; you have totake it seriously. Clause 21 -- Fees 1. 20 p. m.
Mr Speaker, westopped at clause 21 the other day, so, wecontinue from there.
“All fees payable under this Actshall be as prescribed byRegulation.” If you turn to clause 23, you would seethat --
HonChairman, I think what you have said isall right. Hon Chairman, it is self-explanatory. We are fine, do not explainfurther. There is nothing wrong withputting the fee structure in the Regulation. Hon Nitiwul?
Mr Speaker, I appreciatewhat the Hon Chairman is proposing. Butthe original Bill has two words that weshould take note of. They wanted us tonote that, it shall be prescribed by theCouncil and that, it has also to be paid tothe Registrar of the Council. They did not disagree with the fact thatit should be by Regulation, not at all. Butthe framers of the original Bill wanted thefees to be prescribed by the Council,whether by Regulation or whatever. Andthat it must also be paid to the Registrarof the Council. I would want to find outwhy you are leaving that aspect out. This Does it mean that, the Principal of theCollege can prescribe the fees?
If you go to clause 34, “The Minister may, on the adviceof the Council, by LegislativeInstrument, make Regulations to (a) prescribe practice standards formembers of the Institute; (b) provide for the discipline ofmembers; (c) prescribe the fees to be paidunder this Act;
I will putthe Question. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 21 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 22 -- Removal of name fromRegister. Hon Chairman of Committee?
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 22, subclause (1), delete and insertthe following: “The Council may remove the nameof a person from the register of theInstitute if the Council is satisfiedthat that person is unfit to practisethe profession of taxation.”
Mr Speaker,I am not comfortable with the way theprovision has been crafted. Moreespecially, with the use of the word ‘may'and the word ‘satisfied'. This is because,if the Council is satisfied, it means thatthe Council has determined and has cometo a conclusion that, somebody is not fitto practise the profession of taxation. Why should we give the Council thediscretion of deciding whether to deletethe person's name or not? What I am saying here is that, they saythe Council may remove the name ofperson from the register of a the Instituteif the Council is satisfied. So, if the Councilis satisfied, then I would like to proposethat the Council shall remove. That is myproposition. This is because, if the Council hascome to a conclusion that somebody isnot fit, why should we give the Councilthe discretion of deciding whether todelete or not to delete?
Is it notbecause there are different levels ofoffences and different punishments? I donot know. You are saying that, when theCouncil says the person is unfit to be amember, then the Council cannot doanything but to delete, that is what youare saying.
Yes, that is the way I see it.
Iunderstand what you are saying, let ushear from Hon Dr Appiah-Kubi.
Thank you, MrSpeaker. I am equally not happy with the use ofthe word ‘satisfied'. I would want to propose the word, ‘convinced,' whichconnotes some evidence; that the Councilhas evidence, that the person is unfit topractise that profession. And that is --
Hon AttaAkyea, what is your view on the matter?
Mr Speaker, in fact --[Interruptions.]
No, satisfied -- letme give you the point for my argument. Inmy opinion, ‘satisfaction' connotes someelement of joy and -- [Interruptions.] Hold on, that is it. I am an Economistand I am speaking from the point of viewof an Economist. It cannot be that, theCouncil will take joy in just deleting thenames of members, but it should be basedon evidence. That is why I would proposethe use of the word, ‘convinced'. Thank you, Mr Speaker.
Thankyou very much, Hon Appiah-Kubi. I wouldwant to hear Hon Atta Akyea on the matter.
Mr Speaker, sometimeswhen we are called upon to formulate lawsfor the courts, we might reduce it to ourordinary conversation. So, from theordinary man's point of view, the word‘convinced' is a very mundane way ofputting it. But from a forensic perspective,immediately the Judge says that I am notsatisfied, that is to say, it is based onevidence. So, it is the normal drafting notto go for the ordinary word ‘convinced'but to say, satisfied. So, I think my good friend should cometo terms with that. Immediately you say, Iam not satisfied, that means it is premised on evidence. The two words may be thesame but they prefer the word ‘satisfied'to ‘convinced'. You might want toconvince a Judge and the other dimensionis that, you might want to convince aJudge but he might not be satisfied withyour persuasion and the way you want togo.
HonAppiah-Kubi, are you satisfied orconvinced or persuaded?
Mr Speaker, I ampersuaded but not satisfied.
Mr Speaker, in the originalBill, there were specific Acts that werementioned. But in the Hon Chairman'samendment, they are leaving it to theCouncil to satisfy themselves, or look atit and satisfy themselves or otherwise, orwould want to make a person fit or unfit. Are we to assume that, the Regulationsthat we would prescribe or provide fordisciplinary matter would be used? Or weshould direct them that they should usethose Regulations or just leave it as such,and assume that, they would look at theRegulations that would come along andbase it on that? This is because, if youlook at the original Bill, it is very clear thatif you are found guilty of a professionalmisconduct or have been disqualified, oryou did not pay your fees, those ones arethere. But now, the Hon Chairman'samendment is just silent and says that, ‘ifit is satisfied that the person is unfit', whatmakes the persons unfit, we do not know/ So, if it is Regulations, then I think weshould state it because under Regulations, That is my problem and I would wantthe Hon Chairman to explain that to meproperly. This is because, it says that theCouncil may remove the name of a personfrom the register of the Institute if theCouncil is satisfied that, that person isunfit. Mr Speaker, what is the Council goingto base on to say that one is unfit? Is itdisciplinary matters, by Regulations, theirown Regulations? What is it that they aregoing to use? I do not know if we shouldbe specific or leave it like that.
Mr Speaker, the HonDeputy Minority Leader is stretching thistoo far. This is because, decisions aretaken based on evidence. Therefore, theCouncil has a set of rules. If one goesagainst those rules, one is definitely outof order. So, there is evidence here -- theRegulations are there, and if one goesoutside those Regulations, then you aredisqualified, for that matter, one wouldhave to pay for it. So, they are going to beled and it is not just by their own --
Mr Speaker, when it cameto fees, they were very specific. This isbecause, the Regulations would cater forfees, they said that it would be done byRegulations. That caters for the fee, clearenough, so that one does not have to goabout wondering where it is going to comefrom. Regulations would also deal withdisciplinary matters, so, they would setthe Regulations. If the Council is satisfiedby the Regulations that one unfit, thenone is unfit. But as it stands now, it is vague. We are assuming that the Councilwould use Regulations that the Ministerwould bring. What if the Council says that,it is when they are satisfied that the personis unfit -- based on what?
I said whatever decisionthey might arrive at, they would be guidedby the Regulations that they might haveset-up - that is the Hon Minister.
The HonMinority Leader is suggesting that if thatis the case, it should be clear within thebody. There should be a reference to theRegulations such as in the fees. Theamendment you proposed concerning thefees, you made reference to Regulations.So, to do with discipline, you should makereference to Regulations in the body --That is his suggestion. Hon DeputyMinority Leader, am I correct?
Yes, Mr Speaker, I wassuggesting that, if you want them to makeRegulations, state it. If you want theRegulations that the Hon Minister hasmade, state it. But if you leave it like this,it is very vague. This is because you saidthat if the Council is satisfied that, thatperson is unfit to practise, what are theygoing to use to say that the person isunfit?
Mr Speaker, I justwant to draw the Deputy MinorityLeader's attention to clause 22 (3) and theFirst Schedule. You would see that withclause 22 (3), it clearly states that therewould be a disciplinary procedure. You would also see that, the FirstSchedule also talks about the proceedingsthat would have to happen before theCouncil can take that decision that we aretalking about. That is why it uses the wordlike my Colleague, Hon Atta Akyea said; in legal terms, when they say ‘satisfied',it means that they have gathered all theevidence and are convinced. It is not just an arbitral thing. If one donot read the entirety of the Bill and onewants to look at the clauses as if they arestanding alone, one might be tempted togive it an interpretation that might not becomplete. It is part of the whole Bill andone would see that if one takes the sameclause 22, where it talks about removal ofnames, by the time one finishes withclause 22 (3), one would understand thatclause 22 (1) is not standing alone. So, there are a lot of disciplinaryprocedures. It does not only end withclause 22, but goes to even the FirstSchedule. So, I believe his fear that there may besome arbitrariness and other things, if headverts his mind to clause 22 (3) and theFirst Schedule, he would see that, that istaken care of. Thank you.
Mr Speaker, I see that theHon Deputy Minority Leader is worriedabout the subjective nature of therendition that the Council should besatisfied. If we could get something whichwould rather make the whole thingobjective as if the person is found to beunfit rather than the Council beingsatisfied. We know the types ofinterpretations that would be placed onthe expression “satisfied” -- It can bevery subjective.
Mr Speaker, I amtempted to come to the conclusion that,the original rendition of the Bill satisfiesthe concerns of the Hon Deputy MinorityLeader. This is because, there is anexplanation why they would come to aconclusion and I would want to read that. “The Council may strike off thename of a person from the registerof the Institute if: (a) the Council is satisfied that thatperson is unfit to practise theprofession of taxation becausethat person has been found guiltyof professional misconduct orhas been disqualified under thisAct…” Mr Speaker, that is a better renditionbecause, if you look at the amendment, itdoes not explain why one's name shouldbe removed. But if you look at the originalBill, it is premised on the fact that one hasbeen disqualified for the simple reason thatone has been found guilty of professionalmisconduct. Insofar as one has beenfound guilty of professional misconduct,they have the power to remove one'sname from the register. So, I think the amendment does nothelp us much but the original Bill bringsclarity, so, we should adopt the originalBill and leave the amendment.
Let mejust seek advice from the Chairman. MrChairman, what is the purpose of thisamendment? Why is the Committeeproposing this amendment? Is there areason? What mischief were you seekingto cure?
Mr Speaker, if we look fromclause 22 down to clause 23, it is all madeup of the causes that might lead tosomebody's suspension.
Even upto clause 25. I do not know what we aregoing to do because --
Mr Speaker, I wouldwant to help the Chairman. If you look atthe rendition in the original Bill, it restrictsit to professional misconduct. Butmembers could have other challenges apart from professional misconduct. Forexample, if the person is not mentallysound.
But HonMuntaka, it says, “or has been disqualifiedunder this Act” and not just professionalmisconduct. I believe the Act sets out whocan qualify and I believe you must be aperson of sound mind.
Mr Speaker, I waseven suggesting earlier to the HonChairman that the original rendition isbroad enough. But one of the major thingsis that if we want to stretch it, there maybe other things that have not beencovered. Maybe, they thought that if theygive the Council a broad --
HonMuntaka, you know that I have noobjection to sitting for long periods oftime. Perhaps, I can sit till evening if theneed be. But when you look at theproposed amendments that are startingfrom clause 22 on page 52 on the OrderPaper, right up to clause 33 on page 55 onthe Order Paper, it all has to do with similarthings; the process by which one seeksto be a member of the Chartered Instituteof Taxation. Pages 52 to 55 on the Order Paper dealwith those kind of things. It is only whenwe come to clause 35 which is numbered(xviii) on page 55 on the Order Paper thatit starts dealing with other things. If you do not mind, let us startoperating from clause 35 which is notcontroversial; it deals with interpretationof the institute and so on. Let us defer from where we are up toclause 34 and start from clause 35. This isbecause all those deal with similar mattersand if even the first of this has beendebated, maybe, we should put our headstogether again and see. Yes, Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah?
Mr Speaker,on a close reading of the Bill, one wouldnotice that the original rendition, evenwhen it comes to removal, includes“failure to pay prescribed fees for aperiod”. The amendment seeks to restrict theremoval to a situation where the personhas been found to be unfit to practice.Subsequently, where it is for non-payment, it is suspension of registration-- In clause 23. The amendment is of substancerestricts the removal of a person's namefrom the register only on the basis ofprofessional misconduct or being foundnot to be a fit person to practice theprofession. The amendment is not only inrespect of the fore, it is really of substancewhile in the original rendition, removal ofa name could be made on the basis of non-payment of fees. Now, “non-payment offees” would result only in suspension ofregistration.
HonPapa Owusu-Ankomah, if that is the casewhy do we not just delete clause 22 (1) (b)and leave 22 (1) (a)?
Mr Speaker,no! This is because clause 22 (1) (b), isnow to be found as an amendment inclause 23 which has to deal withsuspension of registration.
I agreewith what you said that “non-payment offees” should not be enough grounds tostrike one off. But I am saying that, if thatis the case, why do we not just deleteclause 22 (1) (b) and keep 22 (1) (a)?
This isbecause clause 22 is now dealing only with“person being unfit”. And clause 22,subclause (2), has been substituted in thesubsequent amendment. 22 (2) “A person whose name hasbeen removed from the registerof the Institute may have thename restored if the Council issatisfied that that person hassubsequently become a fit andproper person to practice theprofession of taxation”. Mr Speaker, that is neater. So, we doaway with the (a) and (b) and thensubclauses (2) (a) and (b). While we wouldhave to maintain subclause (3).
HonMuntaka, were you saying something?
Mr Speaker, I was justdrawing your attention that the Questionshave not been put on them.
We areall absorbing what has just been said bythe Hon Member for Sekondi. Yes, Hon Yieleh Chireh?
Mr Speaker, I agree withthe submission that Hon Member forSekondi has made,so if Hon Membersagree, we should all go along that line. Question put and amendment agreedto.
It is a pityI cannot vote. This is because I do nothave a vote, so, I would not express myview. Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committeeclause 22.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 22, subclause (1), delete and insertthe following: “The Council may remove the nameof a person from the register of theInstitute if the Council is satisfiedthat that person is unfit to practisethe profession of taxation.”
Whatpermits that amendment? Is it to give theperson opportunity to come back?
Mr Speaker, theexplanation by Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah --
Mr Speaker, they are justremoving “upon payment of the fees”.
I wouldput the Question. Mr Ben Abdallah Banda -- rose --
Yes, HonMember for Offinso South?
Mr Speaker, I am onlyseeking a clarification. If we look at clause22 which we just dealt with, it talks aboutthe “person being unfit” but in thisparticular rendition, it adds “properperson”. I do not know why it is different.
I believe“fit and proper” is a term of art. But I donot know. Hon Papa Owusu-Ankomah, what isyour view on the matter. Can we say “unfitand improper”?
Mr Speaker, Ithink it should be a “fit and proper”person. In the context of this, I think itshould be “fit and proper”. Where yousay “the person is unfit”, you cannot say“unfit and proper”, but when you want tosay that the person is fit, it is “fit andproper”. So, in context, it is proper. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Yes, HonChairman of the Committee, clause 22.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 22, subclause (3), delete. Question put and amendment agreedto. Clause 22 as amended ordered to standpart of the Bill. Clause 23 — Suspension of registration.
Mr Speaker, with yourpermission, clause 23 (a) as advertised onthe Order Paper should read, clause 23 (e).If we look at the clause 23 — Suspensionof registration, it says: “The Council may suspend theregistration of a member of theinstitute where…” We have the offences; (a), (b), (c) and(d). So, we have (e) after (d). So, clause 23(a) as advertised on the Order Paperbecomes (e).
“(e) the member is not in goodstanding for a period exceedingthree years. (f) that person fails to pay theprescribed fees for a periodexceeding three years.” Mr Speaker, the Committee felt that, itwas more reasonable than leaving it at fourmonths as proposed in the original Bill.That is why the Committee, with thesponsors of the Bill, decided to make itthree years and not four months. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, I beg to move,clause 23, Add the following newsubclause: “(2) The name of a member shall notbe removed from the register ofthe Institute for professionalmisconduct unless the Discip-linary Committee has made areport to the Council that themember concerned is liable forprofessional misconduct afterdue inquiry.”
Let mejust ask a question before I put theQuestion. Hon Chairman of the Committee, I knowNatural Justice is part of our law but isthere any provision here for the personwho is being suspended a right ofhearing? Is there a right of hearingprovision?
Mr Speaker, yes.
Please,where is that?
Mr Speaker,please, refer to page 54 of the Order Paper— clause 25: “(1) A member may not be removed,suspended or struck off theregister unless the Council hasgiven the member, at least, 30days' notice of its intention andhas provided the member anopportunity to make arepresentation to the Council”.
Mr Speaker, first of all, Ihave a problem — Unless the HonChairman further amends what he has proposed. That is to say the new clauseclearly talks about removal from theregister of the institute. It is not aboutsuspension. I would want to find out ifthe name of a person is removed, or not ifthe person is suspended. If it is removedthen the original argument of Hon PapaOwusu-Ankomah that allowed us to carrythat clause does not hold. Mr Speaker, if it is only about theremoval, then it must go back to clause22. We can leave it if it is about the removaland suspension. The amendment he isproposing is that, the name of a personshall not be removed from the register ofthe institute. But clause 23 talks aboutsuspension. We have moved from“removal” which is under clause 22 to“suspension of the people”. That is whatI would want to find —[Interruption.] Mr Speaker, if we are adding“suspension”; that the name of a personshould not be removed or suspendedunless the person goes throughdisciplinary proceedings and they submita Report, then I can understand why wehave waited to bring it under clause 23.But as it stands now, if I am reading theclause and come to “removal”, thennothing tells me about disciplinaryproceedings at that point.
Mr Chairman,the argument my Hon Colleague is makingis valid in the sense that we already haveclause 22 which deals with “removal” andwe are talking about suspension here. Mr Speaker, I believe that it is better ifwe put it there or better still, change theheadnote to read; “suspension andremoval”. Mr Speaker, if in the case of what myHon Member is saying, there was noprovision in clause 22 — It appears weare amending clause 22 and once weremove it, it is either we do that or send itback to clause 22.
So, whatis the suggestion?
Mr Speaker, thesuggestion is that, we take it back. We areat the Consideration Stage and the Rulesare a bit relaxed. Instead of doing this atthe Second Consideration Stage, wepropose —
So, areyou applying to me to relax the rules?
Mr Speaker, yes.
Whyshould I grant your application? Persuademe.
Mr Speaker, we justremoved that subclause; clause 22 (3) andany attempt to defer it would mean thatwe would have to come under SecondConsideration Stage. That is why I wouldwant to plead that since we are at theConsideration Stage and the Rules are abit relaxed, if you could kindly permit usto take it back to clause 22; but it wouldbe clause 22 (3) this time round.
So, yoursuggestion is that — Move the proposedamendment and let me go back to it.
Mr Speaker, I beg tomove, the amendment proposed asadvertised on page 53, item (vi) of theOrder Paper be taken back to read, clause22 (3).
HonMembers, I would first put the Questionon the advertised amendment and not onthe proposed amendment; then I will makeconsequential orders. Question put and amendment agreedto. Hon Members, based on theapplication by Hon Alhaji Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka — Hon Chairman, doyou agree with that application?
Mr Speaker, we do.
Thankyou. I therefore, direct that this amendmentbe made part of clause 22. Hon Alhaji Mohammed-MubarakMuntaka, it is three minutes to 2.00 p.m.Are we doing extended Sitting?
Mr Speaker, sorry to takeyou back to clause 23. Although you havealready put the Question, I would want tofind out whether the clause that we havejust removed applies to “suspension” aswell? If I am supposed to be suspendedand then the clause 23 (a) to (f) are takeninto consideration, it means that theywould just suspend me once I offend them.There would be no Disciplinary Committeehearing — nothing? — [Interruption]
Mr Speaker, I wouldwant to thank you sincerely for theendurance and to say that we would bringproceedings on this Bill to an end fortoday. We can continue tomorrow.
HonMuntaka, before we come to the end ofConsideration Stage, let me put theQuestion on clause 22 because we havetaken something back to that clause. Andthen I would put the Question once againon clause 23 -- Sorry, give me a minute, please.[Pause.] I will put the Question on clause 23. Question put and amendment agreedto.
Mr Speaker, by thiswatch --
It is now a minuteafter 2.00 p.m.
It is not yet a minuteafter 2.00 p.m. Mr Speaker, it is 2.00 p.m.
It isexactly 2.00 p.m. so, I have relaxed theRules. Hon Muntaka, move the Motion forAdjournment.
Mr Speaker, I would want to thank youand my Hon Colleagues sincerely for thetime and patience you had to go througha number of clauses of this Bill as well asthe Business of the House. I beg to move that this House standsadjourned until tomorrow at 10.00 o'clockin the forenoon. Thank you.
Mr Speaker,I rise to second the Motion. Question put and Motion agreed to.