Debates of 28 February 2018

MR SPEAKER

PRAYERS

VOTES AND PROCEEDINGS AND THE OFFICIAL REPORT

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, item numbered 2 on the Order Paper -- correction of Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 27th February, 2018.

[No correction was made to the Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 27 th February, 2018.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, Official Report of Tuesday 6th February, 2018.

[No correction was made to the Official Report of Tuesday, 6thFebruary, 2018.]

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, item numbered 3 -- Urgent Question. If the Hon Minister for the Interior would take the appropriate chair. The relevant Question stands in the name of the Hon Okudzeto Ablakwa who is the Hon Member for North Tongu.

Speaker
Mr Kwame Governs Agbodza

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to ask the Question on behalf of my Colleague, the Hon OKudzeto Ablakwa.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, go ahead.

URGENT QUESTION

MINISTRY OF THE INTERIOR

Speaker
Minister for the Interior (Mr Ambrose Dery)(MP)

Mr Speaker, the matter on which the Hon Member seeks a response is currently pending before the Supreme Court of Ghana. It is therefore inappropriate to comment on this said matter. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I am satisfied; I am all right with that.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

You are satisfied? Very well. Hon Minister, thank you very much for attending upon this House to answer the relevant Question. If the Hon Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection is here, she may take the appropriate chair. Hon Member for Pusiga, please, ask your Question.

Speaker
Mr Thomas Nyarko Ampem

Mr Speaker, she is not around. So, may I ask the Question on her behalf?

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, you may go ahead.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS

MINISTRY OF GENDER, CHILDREN

AND SOCIAL PROTECTION

Speaker
Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection (Ms Otiko A. Djaba)

Mr Speaker, I am aware of the defilement of the four-year old girl which occurred in Assin Nyamebekyere near Assin Adadietem on 13th October, 2017. The mother of the victim negligently left her at home in the care of her six-year old child to attend a funeral, while their father had also gone to the farm. In the absence of the parents, a 16-year old junior high school (JHS) pupil was alleged to have defiled the girl. Immediately I was notified, I dispatched a team from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MOGCSP) to find out what had happened. Mr Speaker, the abused girl was initially rushed to Assin Manso Clinic, but was referred to St Francis Xavier Hospital at Assin Fosu where she was admitted for six days and discharged. The medical bills were paid by the Member of Parliament for Assin South, Hon Rev. John Ntim Fordjour. I wish to thank him sincerely for the support he gave to the child and the family. He was with them from the time of the incident until their resettlement. Mr Speaker, I also met with the mother of the child and the immediate family members. The child was sent to the Police Hospital in Accra for another medical examination. I also gave the family some money and food items for their upkeep. During my visit, I met with the alleged perpetrator's family to convince them to produce the boy to the Police since he was in hiding. The Ministry also arranged for the girl and her mother to be sent to a shelter for temporary care and protection. Mr Speaker, the girl was sent to the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital for further medical examination at the request of the Police at Assin Fosu. The report has been released to the Police to aid prosecution. The case has been sent to court twice. It is scheduled to be heard on 1st March, 2018. To further create awareness on the issue of domestic violence in the community, the annual 16 days of activism celebration was marked in the community to educate them on the need to prevent domestic violence by the Ministry. Mr Speaker, with regard to the health condition of the girl, she is doing well. The victim and the family have been relocated to a safe environment through

Speaker
Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection (Ms Otiko A. Djaba)

Speaker
Mr Ampem

Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister stated in her response that the boy is in hiding and they were persuading the family to produce him. She also mentioned that there has been some court cases. Does that mean that the boy has been found and arranged before court?

Speaker
Ms Djaba

Mr Speaker, yes, the boy has been found and he is at a remand home while the case is pending. Tomorrow, 1st March, 2018, they are to go to court again. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Ras Mubarak

Mr Speaker, a follow-up to the Minister's response of a campaign for activism or creating awareness in the community -- Does the Ministry intend to replicate such awareness creation in other communities across the country?

Speaker
Ms Djaba

Mr Speaker, we have a full programme for this year. Indeed, I am just coming from Pusiga where we had a programme on zero tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). We are going to do a grassroot-based programme this year to ensure that in all the ten regions and districts of Ghana, the issue of gender-based violence, the sensitisation, is really from the community level. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Governs K. Agbodza

Mr Speaker, in the Minister's Answer, she said in paragraph 1 that, the mother of the victim negligently left her at home. Would some of the counselling be given to the parents as well and would this counselling be extended across the country? This is because, if they negligently left the child, I think that was part of the reason the victim had this problem. So, would this counselling be extended to families as well so that they do not negligently leave their children at home when they are going to work?

Speaker
Ms Djaba

Mr Speaker, the issue of parental neglect is very worrying in Ghana. So, we are putting in place a system which I would be sending to Cabinet to make it mandatory for community fora to be held once in a month in every community, at lease, to talk about parenting and ensure that we fully understand our responsibilities as parents and caregivers. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Dr Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings

Mr Speaker, I would like to find out from the Hon Minister whether there is a concentration on investigation and awareness regarding defilement of minors. This is because she mentioned domestic violence, but this is a specific case of a child being defiled. This is not the first case and I am wondering whether something has been put in place so that we stop hearing of these incidents and the aftermath of these things.

Speaker
Ms Djaba

Mr Speaker, the only reason I mentioned it is that, there are various areas of violence against not only children, but women as well. In the specific area of defilement, yes, we are putting in programmes with the Department of Social Welfare to ensure that the sensitisation spreads across the villages and communities. Parenting is not taught, it happens. And in society -- I have a list here that I can present to Parliament about the various issues of defilement that have been reported. In the year 2015, there were 1,187 cases of difilement of girls and 16 cases defilement of boys. We are yet to do the calculations for 2016 and 2017. It is important that as a nation, the awareness is made more severe for people to understand the punishment that comes with it and the fact that the stigma is attached to the victim -- How we can understand the psychological framework of anybody who would defile a little child? It beats my understanding. But we are working on it and I hope and pray that the Hon Members of Parliament would also help, because it is a collective responsibility. Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Members, any other Question? Hon Majority Chief Whip, would you like to ask a Question?

Speaker
Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh

No, Mr Speaker, I thought you were talking to the Hon Minister.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

No, Hon Member. This Honourable House takes a very serious view of this matter. Our young girls are defiled, women are raped, and when these matters are being investigated, we have all manner of dwane toa experts apparantly holding positions of respect in the society coming to intervene. We would want you to please ensure that this act, which is not a misdemeanour but a felony, is followed up to its logical conclusion. Hon Minister, we are requesting that in two weeks, you would come to this Honourable House and assure us that you are personally following this to set an example, and that there are no private, personal, official or whatever interventions to kill the case or settle it behind closed doors. By our law, a felony cannot be settled out of court. Let it be very clear. So, no priest or chief can come in and say “me behwe asem no”, to wit, I am coming to look at the matter. They cannot look at it, because the law says so. The case must therefore go to court and be proceeded with to its logical conclusion. Hon Minister, you would please come and report further to this Honourable House in two weeks and thereafter, Parliament would want to see the conclusion of this matter. We thank you very much. Hon Minister, you are discharged. There being no Statement, we would move on to the Commencement of Public Business -- item numbered 6 -- Presentation of Papers. Hon Muntaka?

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Member, is this about the document you brought to me in the last minute?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

No, Mr Speaker, it is about Questions. On Thursday, the Business Committee met and presented the Report of the Committee on Friday. Today, we were supposed to have five Questions. Three of them were supposed to be answered by the Minister for Agriculture. Mr Speaker, yesterday, it was even advertised for today on the provisional Order Paper. Unfortunately, this morning, there are only two Questions. Nobody has told us why those Questions have disappeared from the Order Paper. There was no communication and the Hon Minister is not here to answer, even though the Hon Members were willing to ask their Questions. Mr Speaker, we would be grateful if you could intervene --

Speaker
Mr Speaker

I would make a quick consultation with the Table Office and deal with this matter. This is because when an item has been published, Hon Members should expect that when they come the following day, some action would be taken thereon. If the Table Office would please come closer, I would deal with the matter immediately. Hon Members, a communication has officially been received from the Ministry of Agriculture, dated 27th February, 2018, and I simply told the official that in future, this should be expeditiously commu- nicated to put Hon Members on notice, and they said they were going to do so soon after. For the sake of the rights of this Honourable House, I would read this letter; SPACE FOR LETTER - PAGE 4 - 10.55 A.M.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Speaker
Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh

Mr Speaker, the Hon Chairman of the Committee was in the Chamber. I think he has stepped out.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Hon Chief Whip?

Speaker
Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh

Mr Speaker, we could step this matter down for him to come and tell us whether they are ready or not. There are other members of the Committee who are also available; they would be able to speak to the matter.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Is the document ready for laying and distribution?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, a while ago, he was here and I asked him about it. I also called him to remind him that he has a Paper to lay, and he said that he was going through the final corrections of the Report. I told him that we had to have sufficient copies before we could lay it.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

We shall stand that down as it is not ready for the moment. Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip?

Speaker
Mr Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh

Mr Speaker, I would plead that we step it down. He would be back to the Chamber in a few minutes and then we would hear from him.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you. Hon Members, item numbered --

Speaker
Alhaji (Dr) Abdul-Rashid Hassan Pelpuo

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Pelpuo?

Speaker
Alhaji (Dr) Abdul-Rashid H. Pelpuo

Mr Speaker, the report is very much anticipated by many Ghanaians, especially the young students out there who are lobbying Parliament very vigorously for the first time. They hope that some decision would be taken about the report. So, we would urge the Committee and the Hon Chairman to make sure they expedite action on it and lay it, so that we could see the way forward. This is because it has become a national concern now. It is also very keen on the minds of people. Mr Speaker, I would be happy if we could direct the Hon Chairman and his Committee to speed up the process, so that we could see the matter come to a closure. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Thank you very much. Well said; I trust this matter would be handled with the appropriate expedition. Hon Leader, where are we now with the Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage? I see clause 2 here. I trust that the House finished with clause 1 and that debate is to continue on clause 2. Hon Leader, if you and the Hon Chairman of the Committee could lead us at this stage?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

rose

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Muntaka?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, when we started the debate yesterday, we all agreed that it is a very technical and important Bill. As we speak, neither the Hon Minister nor any of his deputies are here. As you may know, because it is on a very critical policy issue, it is important that we have either the Hon Minister or any of his deputies to guide us. When we started yesterday, it was clear that we would need their guidance on these issues as we go on. But none of them or a representative of the Attorney- General's Office is here. So, we would plead that they should come so that it would be more useful in terms of the policy directions that may be required.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

Yes, Hon Majority Chief Whip, I am sure you agree with your Hon Colleague and that, you being in charge of Government Business, you would endeavour to bring the relevant Minister or Ministers to the House at the next stage of consideration.

Speaker
Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh

Mr Speaker, we stand guided by your directions. Obviously, it is difficult for us to proceed with the Consideration Stage, especially when it is an innovation that is being introduced into the system. So, we are not likely to proceed with it in the absence of the Hon Minister or any of the deputy Ministers. Mr Speaker, we would pray that we suspend Sitting for about an hour -- [Interruption] -- We would make effort to bring either the Hon Minister or the Hon Deputy Ministers to help us in the Consideration of the Bill.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

All right, thank you. Is it agreeable?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Well, Mr Speaker, since the Hon Leader runs Government Business and he thinks in an hour's time he could get them, why not? I thought we would adjourn, so that the Committee meetings could go on. But if he is sure in an hour, we could gather them; we would be available to assist.

Speaker
Mr Speaker

We would suspend Sitting for an hour for all the relevant persons to put their house in order and then, we would proceed accordingly. Thank you very much, Hon Members.

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Majority Chief Whip, what is the position?

Speaker
Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh

Thank you, Mr Speaker. Mr Speaker, we stood down the item numbered 7 -- Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017 -- which is at the Consideration Stage. We did so because the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance was not with us at the time. He is with us now, and the Hon Chairman is also here. So, I believe we could proceed with Business.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, Taxation (Use of Fiscal Electronic Device) Bill, 2017, at the Consideration Stage. Hon Chairman of the Committee, where do we start from? We would start from clause 4, right?

Speaker
Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, we could go back to clause 2, and conclude the debate on it. Mr Speaker, yesterday, the Question was put on clause 2 and the Hon Majority Leader suggested that we should have a look at it again. So, unless we come back at a Second Consideration --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

So, should I proceed to clause 3?

MR FIRST DEPUTY SPEAKER

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, the Question has already been put on clause 3.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

So, we would move on to clause 4. Hon Members, clause 4.

BILLS -- CONSIDERATION STAGE

[Resumption of debate from 27-02- 2018.]

Speaker
Chairman of the Committee (Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah)

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 4, subclause (1), line 1, before “person” insert “taxable” and in line 3, delete “certified”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, the new rendition would now read

“Where a Fiscal Electronic Device assigned to a person is installed by the supplier, that taxable person shall, for purposes of verification, registration and activation of the Device, submit to the supplier, a copy of the Value Added Tax certificate issued by the Authority to that person together with a completed Fiscal Electronic Device registration form.”

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Yes, Hon Chairman?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I would have to take this again. Mr Speaker, there are two persons here. The “taxable” would go before “person” in subclause 1, line 1, and not in line 2. When I was reading, I inserted the “taxable” before “person” in line 2. It should rather be before “person” in line 1.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

So, the rendition would rather be: “Where a Fiscal Electronic Device assigned to a “taxable person”…” Very well, I would put the Question again. Question put and amendment agreed to.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I will now put the Question on the entire clause 4 -

-

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, clause 2 is not advertised, but I would just want to find out from the Hon Chairman that if we deleted “specified” in paragraph one, in the first line of clause 2, then should we still keep “certified” there or delete it as well?

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Do you refer to subclause 2 of clause 4? Yes, Hon Chairman?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I believe that I would go with what he says. So, if he could go ahead and propose an amendment that we delete “certified” in subclause 2, line 1.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I therefore move that, that particular clause reads: “The supplier shall, on receipt of the copy of the value added certificate…” Mr Speaker, therefore “certified” should be deleted in line 1.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

So, the proposed amendment is that clause 4, subclause 2, line 1, we delete “certified” before “copy”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 4 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 5 -- Obligation to put Fiscal Electronic Device to appropriate use.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, the amendment proposed stands in the name of the Hon Minority Leader and the Hon Dafeamekpor.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I would want to move this proposed amendment on behalf of the Hon Minority Leader and the Hon Dafeamekpor, with the indulgence of the Hon Chairman of the Committee.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Chairman of the Committee?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, this Bill, as alluded to earlier, is a very technical Bill. So, when Hon Members have proposed amendments, we would think that they would be here to defend why they have proposed those amendments. Mr Speaker, therefore, if the Hon Agbodza says that he wants to move the amendments on their behalf, then I would just caution that he goes ahead and also explain why those amendments are being moved.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, the leave is granted to you to move the proposed amendments on behalf of the two Hon Members.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I thought that we have too many people in the House and it should have been in the interest of the Hon Chairman for us to progress, but if he would want to be very technical, then that is also a very good idea. I am just looking at -- [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon available Leader, I have granted you leave to move the proposed amendment on their behalf. Mr Kwame G. Agbodza (on behalf of Mr Haruna Iddrisu and Mr Rockson- Nelson E. K. Dafeamekpor): Mr Speaker, I beg to move, Clause 5 -- Subclause (1), paragraph (b), line 2, delete “and keep that manual”. Mr Speaker, the reason for this paragraph (b) which reads, “to obtain a user manual for the Fiscal Electronic device from the supply and keep that manual -- Mr Speaker, we believe we should delete “and keep that manual” and just leave it at “device”.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, why would you want that deleted?

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, the device is already defined and so there is no need to keep a manual of the device. In this particular case, we are talking about the device, so there is no need to keep a manual.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman or Hon Minister, why do the persons who acquire the device need to keep the manual?

Speaker
Mr Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, it is important that the law reminds employers that as their workers and employees change, it would be necessary to keep this manual and educate employees who may not be there at the time the initial education would happen. So, Mr Speaker, to the extent that it is not harmful, I think it should be there to serve as a reminder to employers that these manuals have to be kept. We learnt this from our experiences in other countries where education had to happen again and again and people took refuge in the excuse that they did not have the manual. So, this is just a reminder that they ought to keep the manual. It is not harmful; we should keep it.

Speaker
Alhaji InusahA.B. Fuseini

Mr Speaker, if the intention is to encourage suppliers to keep the manual, why would we make it a law? Would it not go into regulations or administrative fiat? When we make it a law, it becomes compulsory that we keep the manual. That is for the abundance of caution so that they can periodically be educated. If that is the intention, they would do it on advice. We want to advise them; we should do it by administrative fiat. Why do we want to put it in the law so that it becomes compulsory that they keep it?

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, they have to keep it. It should be possible anytime tax authorities visit these retail outlets to ask about the availability of the manual. That is the only way we can really encourage them when they know that by law, they cannot just get these manuals and get them missing. They have to be there and employers have to make sure that these manuals are there for employees and sales persons who may not be at post at the time the education would happen. Mr Speaker, it is important that we insist that they keep the manual for this purpose.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Deputy Minister, if I understood you, your intention is not to encourage a situation where the device is not functioning and the reason is that we cannot operate it because there is no manual. So, what happens if somebody does not keep the manual? Is there an offence created?

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

That becomes an offence; but more importantly, Mr Speaker, then it takes away that as an excuse, because by law, you should keep the manual. So, if subsequent sales persons cannot operate and the excuse is that the manual is missing, the law says that one ought to have kept the manual.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

And the appropriate penalties would then apply.

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Exactly so, Mr Speaker.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members do we put the Question on it or you would want to withdraw? Which one?

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister's explanation is clear. I can withdraw the amendment. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 5, subclause (1), paragraph (c), line 3, delete “Fiscal Electronic”.

Speaker
Mr Speaker, paragraph (c) would now read

“use the Fiscal Electronic Device in accordance with the user manual and other instructions given for the use of the device.” Mr Speaker, here we are using “Fiscal Electronic Device” in line 1 and again in line 3. More so, “device” is defined in the interpretation section. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 5 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 6 -- Issue of fiscal receipt.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6, headnotes, delete “Issue” and insert “Issuance” So, the headnote would read, “Issuance of fiscal receipt”. Mr Speaker, I believe it reads better being “Issuance of fiscal receipt” than “Issue of fiscal receipt”.

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, I agree with the amendment. Question put and amendment agreed to.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6 subclause (4), line 5, delete “fifteen months and not more than two years” and insert “two years and not more than four years”. Mr Speaker, this is for the sake of consistency. Moreso, the Attorney- General's Department recommended this, having looked through the sentencing guidelines as what pertains. So, this is for consistency throughout the Bill.

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, I agree with the amendment. [Interruption.] That is what I mean. Mr Speaker, it is an amendment of the Committee, but just to add that, this is particularly necessary because if we go to the other tax laws, for instance, the Excise Tax passed in 2013, you would see that the upper limit is actually five years. For consistency, it is important we lift this as well.

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

Mr Speaker, normally, I would not have risen, but this Bill is supposed to come from the Ministry of Finance, but the Ministry ought to have been advised by the Attorney-General's Department. So I thought the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice would be here to tell us that this amendment is consistent with the Sentencing Fees and Fines Act, because we are hearing it from the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee. I accept what he said [Interruption] -- I agree to what he said. They should have been here to tell us that and not the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, especially since they were those who drafted the Bill for the Ministry of Finance.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

The information is that the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice advised that the sentencing guidelines is what informs this amendment. Question put and amendment agreed to.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

How come that the Hon Chairman who proposed the amendment voted no?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 6, subclause (5), line 1, delete “(3)” and insert “(4)” So, the new rendition would read, “without limiting subsection 4” because what we are referencing is subsection (4), not subsection (3). Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 6 as variously amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 7 ordered to stand part of the Bill. 1. 05 p.m.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Clause 8? Clause 8 -- Defective or malfunction- ing of Fiscal Electronic Device.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, there is an advertised amendment in the name of Hon Haruna Iddrisu and Hon Rockson-Nelson E. K. Dafeamekpor.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 8, subclause (2), line 2, delete “twenty-four hours” and insert “two working days”. Mr Speaker, the reason for this is that if this happens on Friday evening, twenty- four hours would have still been within the weekend. So, two working days is more appropriate if the Hon Chairman could consider that.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Deputy Minister?

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, I get the sense of what the amendment is seeks to do. And really, the explanation was just that it could be a Friday and two working days would mean that it would take us to Monday. The new question is that in between those times, I think three or four days is just too long to allow sales to go on with this uncorrected. So, if the twenty-four hours is short, we may well want to put it forty-eight hours. I mean suppliers who have the responsibility to ensure that these devices are repaired as soon as they break down should be able to have arrangement to work over weekends. This is because they deal with sales that happen all the time. So, if at all we are minded to vary the twenty-four hours, we may want to change it to forty-eight hours. But two working days, where we have a long holiday, I think we would create too long a space within which sales would be done outside this device.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I fully understand my Hon Colleague, the Deputy Minister, but there are provisions in this that allow the suppliers to use the manual receipts in times of breakdown. Some repairers may not actually work over the weekend. So, if we tie the hands of the suppliers to the fact that they must still find somebody to repair it, it may be unfair. I think two working days, there would not be any justification. It would be difficult to have four days holiday in this country, even if you add the weekends to a public holiday. So, I think two working days may be a reasonable period within which they cannot have any excuse for not using the electronic device any longer.

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, to start with, I can appreciate the Hon Member wants sufficient time within which these repairs would happen. But we need to advert our minds to the fact that this is not a case of a device breaking down and we have to take it to any repairer. The work of the supplier would necessarily include repair services. And because we want to limit as much as possible the period within which manual sales would happen— then it makes auditing difficult and it would begin to work against the overall objective of going automation. So, I think we should — if I have a contract with you and you know that even on Sundays, you could be called upon to do that and they would be based in the districts, I think we should keep the twenty-four hours.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Frankly, I think that the Memorandum shows what ill we try to fight against. The level of dishonesty in reporting sales is high, so any leverage we allow would feed into what we try to do and it would defeat the whole purpose. So, I suggest that we retain the twenty-four hours.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, he came with a compromise earlier, then in the last minute, he went back again. Maybe, we should adopt his initial compromise, which was twenty-four hours instead of the two working days.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well, I want to hear about the forty-eight hours versus the twenty-four hours and the two working days. Hon Chairman, what do you think?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, if you listened to the argument advanced by the Hon Deputy Minister, we do not want the situation where somebody hides behind the fact that there is a forty-eight-hour window for me to repair this machine, so that all sales done during the period are not captured. So if we leave it at twenty- four hours, then we do not have an excuse. So, I believe we should leave it at ‘twenty-four hours' as it is in the Bill.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Agbodza, the sponsor of the Bill still thinks that ‘twenty-four hours' is sufficient. In that case, to save us all the troubles, just withdraw the proposed amendment so we do not have to vote.

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

rose

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

I was also going to implore him to withdraw. Having looked at the objective of the Bill, the seller should be able to get the supplier to come and repair the device even if they are on holidays. This is because if the essence is to block leakages, then we must not create room where they could exploit the leakages. I think we should maintain the twenty- four hours but make it possible for the people to get the suppliers to service the machines or repair same. So, I pray you to just withdraw and let “twenty-four hours” stand.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I believe my Hon Colleagues have advanced a more superior argument so, I withdraw my amendment. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Item numbered (ix) by the Hon Minority Leader and Mr Rockson-Nelson E. K. Dafeamekpor?

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I believe we need to abandon this one as well. As I read the full version of the clause, I think there is a reason why it is this way. I think we would abandon this one as well.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well.

Speaker
Mr Mohammed-Mubarak Muntaka

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Minority Chief Whip?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

I thought the reason why they wanted it was that it looks repetitive. If we say, “where a fiscal electronic device becomes defective or malfunctioned, the person from whom the device has been installed shall immediately activate the back up”, why do we have to repeat the “fiscal electronic device”? That was why they wanted to do the amendment.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Let me listen to Hon Kpodo.

Speaker
Mr Benjamin K. Kpodo

Mr Speaker, if you read the Bill, you would find that there is a specific equipment called “back up device”. So, if reference is made to it in this manner, it is not just the normal device. There is the backup device which is being referred to in this clause. So, for reasons of specificity, we have to maintain that “fiscal electronic device”. That is why we seek to abandon the proposed amendment.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. In that case, you would withdraw the amendment.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, as he rightly said, we are just deploying a backup device, so, I do not think it is a problem.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Leave granted for the application to be withdrawn. Amendment withdrawn by leave of the House.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 8, subclause (4), paragraph (b), redraft as follows: “9(b) in the circumstance specified in paragraph (a) while awaiting the repair or replacement of the defective or malfunctioning Fiscal Electronic Device issue the Commissioner-General's invoice to a customer for each transaction engaged in within the period permitted by subsection (2)”.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, my worry with this one has to do with when the device gets spoilt or could not function or for whatever reason, it does not work -- the period that we have cited here is within 24 hours. I know it was discussed earlier. Mr Speaker, do we say that the system cannot be used beyond that stipulated time? If it does, what happens? Could we advert our minds to it? This is because here, we are about prescribing punishment. What about if it goes beyond that period? This is because the period has been stated categorically in subsection (2) where it is stated that it should be within 24 hours. If it goes beyond that -- Let us not pretend that they cannot go beyond that. I do not know the type that the suppliers would supply, but if it is dependent on electricity, even if they you have a backup, we can all admit that both the main device and its backup could be down. When that happens and it has to be operated on beyond that period, what do we do? This is because we are about to prescribe punishment for it. I would be happy to hear from the Hon Deputy Minister. What would happen if it goes beyond that period?

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, I appreciate the point made. There is a limit to the safeguards that one could put in place. In theory, you could even have five backups and they would all not work within a certain period. So, it is not as though we can go on forever. When the device breaks down, there is a backup, so they are to replace it with the backup immediately. Then the supplier, who would have the responsibility for the repairs, has been asked to rectify the defect within 24 hours. If it does not happen, then it is an offence under the law and the applicable sanctions should apply.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, we all remember about two or three months ago, the Accra West Branch of the Electricity Company of Ghana (GES) was down for one week. People queued to pay money, yet the system was down. I cannot imagine any company that might have to use this point of sale (POS) device, that is bigger than ECG. Yet, even ECG went down for a whole week. The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) had to step in to caution them. My worry is that, if we said that they could continue to issue the Commissioner-General's invoice until such a problem was resolved, it would cover us. This is because if people did it with the intention of fraud, we would have made provision for it. When we say that it should be within the specified period of 24 hours -- We said that if one's system goes down and the person is issued with the Commissioner-General's invoice, and within 24 hours the problem is not solved, the person should shut down his or her business.

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, we need to keep our minds on the mischief we are trying to cure and see where the real safeguards have to be. We might not have a perfect legislation, but if I consider that the objective of this is to rein everybody in, we should be careful with provisions that seem to open the door for people to exploit and do the wrong thing. I am confident that the Commissioner- General, in his application of this law, and in deciding whom to go after, would take all these circumstances into account. It is better to leave it that way and get the Commissioner-General to examine the circumstances and see where we should activate prosecution, than to leave a loophole that could be exploited to hurt the very objective of this law.

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

Mr Speaker, as I listen to the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance, he seems to create a strict liability offence in the provision that one would have to ensure that one has a backup, which must be activated when the main device fails to work. When that backup does not work, either by complicity, negligence or default, the supplier would be sanctioned.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

The supplier is allowed to use the Commissioner- General's invoice receipts.

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

That is what the Hon Deputy Minority Chief Whip said.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

He said that we should not limit the time period within which one can use the Commissioner- General's invoice. That is where the argument stands now, that as long as the device and backup remain unrepaired or the challenge is unresolved, the Commissioner-General's invoice should be used. The Hon Minister said that is just as good as saying that one can continue to use it and the purpose of the Bill would be defeated. That is where I tend to agree with him.

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

Mr Speaker, I now get it. I thought that there was no avenue for the use of the manual receipt. As much as possible, we must try to limit the timeframe within which it could be used. I now see it.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I support the position of the Hon Minority Chief Whip. I have a practical example, where hospital equipment are under warranty -- maybe, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT) scan manufactured by General Electric Company (GE) or Philips. The hospital signs a warranty with them that within 48 hours or other, they would repair them. Then they come up with a very good reason why the parts cannot be flown in. They have the parts but the airline did not work. I think 24 hours is a bit too harsh. We say that the supplier should have outlets everywhere, including Adaklu. Where the supplier attempts to take the equipment to Adaklu and there is, maybe, a rainstorm, and as we have heard in this House, the road to where the supplier is has been cut off because the road is bad, are we saying that even with that, there would be penalties? I think that it is a wrong thing. The 24 hours is what puts us in a tight corner now. Maybe, we can step this particular one down for the Chairman and the Minister to reconsider.

Speaker
Mr Ato Panford

Mr Speaker, this is a very critical thing that we must look at carefully. Backups are made for emergency issues, unless by any specific intentional means, it would then be caught up in that manner for that long period. For example, we have generators that are supposed to fire their electricity power even in five seconds or one second. The purpose of it is that, it must be apt and maintained all the time in that situation to address the issue. Mr Speaker, I believe the 24 hours is all right. In industrial practice, parts and certain things that we call the normal wearable parts should be always available and that should be the responsibility of the supplier. Mr Speaker, I deem it appropriate that we keep it as it is and make sure that we do not open the window for people to pry into and do all sorts of things.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, in this House, we procured generators to be able to change over in 15 seconds -- I do not know whether my Hon Colleague was here, but I remember you were here. On more than 10 occasions, brand new generators that were installed and maintained refused to respond and on three or four of such occasions the House had to adjourn to the next day. These were generators Parliament invested into and had all the -- once we are dealing with electronics -- Mr Speaker, the 24 hours for replacement is good, but I would want to say that we are making provision where the possibility of the backup itself fails. They are saying that the person could use the Commissioner-General's invoice, yet they would want to go and lock up the Commissioner- General invoice usage by that 24 hours. That is where I have the problem. Then it would be assumed that at all cost -- Mr Speaker, without citing personal examples, I know a business which had two other backupfour days ago. They use a laptop and they have a backup which is a laptop and another back up which is a desk top. When they called in for the back-up machines, all the two failed. This is because sometimes, if it is being used and the other backup is idle for long, because it is an electronic device, one does not know the challenges it comes with -- Mr Speaker, what I would want to say is that we should allow the Commissioner- General's invoice to be used until such a time -- the Commissioner-General should be given the discretion.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Speaker
Mr Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah

Mr Speaker, the reason for which clause 8 (2) and (3) are constructed the way they are is to, as much as possible, take out discretion and space for both the supplier and even the Commissioner-General to decide where and when to apply this law. Mr Speaker, we would want to be very clear that, as much as possible, we would want the system to work and that it is only within that 24-hour period where for some technical reason it is not functioning that it is allowed to use the Commissioner- General's invoice. Mr Speaker, if for some reason that is palpable on the face, the supplier is not able to address this situation within 24 hours and just for the purposes of argument the Commissioner-General is compelled to even prosecute, I do not believe that any court of competent jurisdiction would look at the bare fact on the face and say that in spite of that he would proceed to convict the person. It is structured this way to ensure that there is literary no lee-way nor any room, else when the flood gates are opened that way, people would find various excuses and reasons for which they would begin to extend the time. Mr Speaker, for example, when the Electoral Commission (EC) is using the biometric devices, because the obligation is on the EC that when the machine goes down it needs to bring another one, it is compelled to find all ways to ensure that when one machine goes down another one is provided. Mr Speaker, I believe that it is alright as it is structured now.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, I think the position should be clear. I keep going back to the Memorandum. This is all because there is dishonesty; we know it. So, as soon as we continue to allow more windows, they would expand them to warehouses. The windows would become warehouse, so we should keep them as they are. When people have genuine excuses I am sure that the Commissioner-General would listen, but we should not through the law provide windows which are exploitable. Question put and amendment agreed to.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman of the Committee, clause 8?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 8, subclause (5), line 4, delete “where” and insert “were”. Mr Speaker, the actual word should have been “were'' and not ‘‘where''. It is a simple drafting issue. Question put and amendment agreed to.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 8, subclause (6), lines 3 to 5, delete “or to a term of imprisonment of not less than two years and not more than four years, or to both”. Mr Speaker, I believe the custodial sentence is the one that has been taken off here.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman of the Committee, by this you mean that the judge is constrained to apply only the penalty unit -- the fines.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, we are trying to impose a custodial sentence on the supplier who fails to repair the malfunction device within -- That did not go down well with the Committee.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I would want to understand what the Committee wants. I agree you do not want people to be committed to prison, but by our rules, once a person is sentenced to a fine and he fails or refuses to pay, the custodial sentence must apply. What do you propose to do in case of default?

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, this is exactly what I wanted to say, except to add that when one starts using the point of sales device and has a supplier who targets a particular business and one has to make it possible for that person to escape blame and just pay a fine -- If I know Hon Bright has a business that makes a million Ghana cedis a day and I want to frustrate him because he has a competitor, so and any time his system goes down for me to repair it within the 24 hours I do not do it and I just go and pay money and he continues to suffer especially now that we are not allowing him to be able to issue the Commissioner-General's invoice beyond the 24 hours -- we need to keep the custodial sentence aside the person even failing to pay. This is because we are dealing with electronics -- A lot of people who have not operated within the electronics or the internet system do not know how people try to sabotage others. It should be there so that the person knows that once he or she has accepted to be a supplier of these devices and there are challenges, he or she the person would also work very hard to make sure that within the 24 hours he or she would keep those business people running without frustrating them.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Let me listen to the Hon Deputy Minister.

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, to start with, the conduct that this law seeks to regulate and to rein in, is the conduct of retailers. So once we move a step up to deal with those supplying the device to those retailers, in my opinion, the risk is minimised. It has been not taken away completely and I do agree that suppliers and retailers could connive to give an excuse not to sell through the device. We should remember that these are going to be licenced suppliers and so if the authority believes that beyond this fine, one would still have been intransigent, then the authority would exercise its power to take the person's licence. It is just being considered; and this discussion happened at the level of the Committee, that where we have a supplier who is actually a company that has workers, some of whom may just be negligent and may even disappear without giving prior notice to the company for which they work, we should be careful the way we impose custodial sentences. That is why it was considered that we could restrict it to the fine. And the Ghana Revenue Authority, where they consider that a particular supplier is problematic, then they would exercise their power to take their licence from them.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, may I suggest that we stand this down and think through it. I understand what we want do. We want to punish by fines but we do not want those who default to go to prison. If I recall correctly, there is a provision in the Criminal Offences Act relating to certain charges or fines in which the beneficiary of the fine is authorised to use the civil processes to recover it. And so we can look at a situation where, even for a recalcitrant person, one can, in addition to deregistering the person, recover the fines that are already imposed on the person. Hon Chairman of the Committee and Hon Deputy Minister, may I suggest that we stand this down and think through it again.

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

Mr Speaker, I was tempted to move with the Hon Minority Chief Whip. But I went back to clause 8 (2); and what is the duty of the supplier? His duty is to rectify the defect or replace the malfunctioning fiscal electronic device within 24 hours. That is his duty. And he goes to jail for two years if he fails to do that? I believe it would be too harsh. That is why I am tempted to go with — [Interruption.]

Speaker
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah

Mr Speaker, we are not challenging your direction on this, but just to aid the debate and in line with the earlier suggestion, the current construction does not even allow this fine to be graduated. It appears that it is just 500 penalty units and not more than 2,000 penalty units. But if the desire is to create a disincentive for people to deliberately stay in this place, but not necessarily to take them to jail, then maybe, in our consideration as you have directed, we could think about graduating it by the number of days that it stays unrepaired.

Speaker
Mr Kpodo

Mr Speaker, it is true that this kind of offence is a business offence and it is not the desire of any community to be sending people to jail when they commit business offences. It is not essentially criminal acts of any kind, but again, it is important to deter people from committing this kind of offence because they know they are not going to jail. Mr Speaker, my other point is that there is a correlation between the penalty unit and the jail term. I am not too sure whether the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice could tell us that 500 penalty units correlate to a term of two years. This is because that is the minimum. If that is the correlation, then we have to maintain it as a deterrent. But if it is possible to bring down the term in custody, that would be preferable. This is because I believe it is a business offence which should not keep the person out of the system for two complete years. Mr Speaker, so, I would suggest that we reduce the jail term to six months — [Interruption] — When we stand it down and we go for reconsideration, these are the issues we should be thinking of. We can reduce the jail term but have it in the Bill so that it would be a deterrent to anyone who plans to violate it.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman of the Committee, I think what you want is an administrative fine and not a criminal fine.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, as the former President Jerry John Rawlings said, the essence of wining political power is not to free people out of jail. And so we do not want to commit people to jail and later attempt —

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Chairman of the Committee, you are out of order. Hon Members, can we proceed to clause 9 instead? Clause 9 — Records

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 9 subclause (2), paragraph (d), line 1, after “person” insert “who” and also delete “a” and insert “the”

Speaker
Mr Speaker, the new rendition would read

“The name and designation of the person who made the report of the malfunction of the device.”

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

I think it is an amendment that is deserving. Question put and amendment agreed to.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, clause 9, xiv. Hon Chairman of the Committee?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, in view of the earlier amendment moved by the Hon Member for Adaklu, I believe we have abandoned ours.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Amendment proposed in clause 9(2), paragraph d is abandoned. I would put the Question on clause 9 as amended. Clause 9 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 10 -- Error in issuing fiscal receipt

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Members, the proposed amendment is in the name of three Hon Members. So, can the Hon Chairman of the Committee move the amendment?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 10, line 1, after “employee” insert “of”. Question put and amendment agreed to.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, we are abandoning that clause too.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. In that case, I would put the Question. [Interruption.] Are you saying there is one more clause? Clause 10 item numbered xvii -- Hon Chairman of the Committee?

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 10, paragraph (b), line 1, after “receipt” insert “on”. Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 10 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Item numbered xviii -- Hon Chairman of the Committee? Clause 11 -- Return of goods sold.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 11, line 4, delete Question put and amendment agreed to. Clause 11 as amended ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 12 ordered to stand part of the Bill. Clause 13 -- Truncated use of Fiscal Electronic Device

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, for consistency sake, I believe we would abandon this because the rendition is better. [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. The amendment is hereby abandoned.

Speaker
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Member?

Speaker
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah

Mr Speaker, I was actually going to support that abandoned amendment.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Well, there is no closure. The Hon Member can still move his own amendment if he so desires.

Speaker
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah

Mr Speaker, then I would like to move my own proposed amendment. Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 13, subclause (1), line 4, delete “two working days” and insert “twenty-four hours”. The reason is that in the instance where the device malfunctions, we are given a 24 window imposing an obligation on the supplier to either replace or fix it. But if that one is very pressing to us, then for consistency purposes as well, in an instance where it has been stolen or not available for some other reason it is not available, at least, a report --

Speaker
Mr Speaker, this is because clause 13 talks about a report

“Where the use of a Fiscal Electronic Device is truncated as a result of it being stolen or being disabled through any other means, the person to whom the Device is assigned shall make a report of that fact within two working days to …” Mr Speaker, so, if the replacement or repair must be done within 24 hours, why are we giving two days to make a report of sale? The report can even be made in a shorter period. That is why initially I would have supported-- but I am now moving that particular amendment as they have abandoned it.

Speaker
Mr Agbodza

Mr Speaker, the difference here is that the report is an official document. Assuming the device breaks down on a Saturday, the offices are not going to open on Saturday and Sunday. So, “two working days” would be more appropriate because the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) would probably not be opening on Saturday and Sunday.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, also, trying to get the supplier to replace it and reporting to the Authority and the police are two different things; they are not on the same leg. This is because getting the supplier to replace it, we are told to do it within 24 hours, with the assumption that24twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. But to report to the police and the Authority, if they are not working or there is a holiday -- I think that is the reason they use -- [Interruption.] No, it is not only the police we are talking about here. It is both the police and the Authority. So, that is the reason it has to be two working days. So, I believe it is useful if they abandon the amendment; the two are walking on different legs. Thank you.

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, I believe at the Committee level, this discussion came up. The point of the “two working days” is to provide enough space in cases where, for instance, the shop has gone up in flames or in a traumatic circumstance under which the retailer needs sympathy and not this kind of strict requirement.

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Deputy Minister, again, since you are making it an offence, if the person does not report to the Authority, then if given 24 hours and the theft is discovered on Friday evening. The 24 hours may be Saturday and the authority might not work; do you punish him for the authority not working, even though it was not practicable for him to make the complaint? So, I think if it were the police alone, the “twenty-four hours” would have been sufficient. But because we are dealing with the Authority, which works within a certain period, I think the two working days is reasonable. Anyway, there is still an amendment which has not been abandoned. I have passed a judgement without putting the Question.

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Member? Mr Speaker, I just crave the indulgence of my good Friend to withdraw his amendment. As a lawyer, he knows that even where there is crime, you have a time limit within which to report to the police. With this particular case, within the metropolis or any other place, there is a time limit within which to report. In this particular case, we are saying that it is not only the police but also the Authority. And we know that even though the police work 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the Authority do not work that way. So, I just crave his indulgence to withdraw and then we can proceed.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Yes, Hon Member, I have granted you leave to withdraw it. [Laughter.]

Speaker
Mr Oppong-Nkrumah

Mr Speaker, accordingly, I withdraw it. Amendment withdrawn by leave of tghe House

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Very well. Hon Members, there is one more amendment to clause 13. Let us take that and bring the proceedings to a close.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, I beg to move, clause 13, subclause (2), lines 2 and 3, delete “one thousand” and insert five hundred”. Mr Speaker, this is just to align this with the earlier ones. Wherever we had these penalty units, they started from 500 to 2000. So, this is for consistency once again.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, my worry with this is that the penalty unit goes with the terms of imprisonment. So, as we reduce and do not make them consistent, it becomes a problem. If we are deleting “one thousand” and inserting “five hundred”, what happens to the incarceration or period of imprisonment because they are supposed to correspond with them? We should not just mention the penalty units and choose different prison terms. So, if we could say the draftspersons should look at the corresponding prison terms, that becomes neater than just reducing the penalty units without reference to the term of imprisonment.

Speaker
Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh

Mr Speaker, my notes indicate that, after changing “one thousand” to “five hundred”, we would also delete “five years”. So, three years should correspond to what we are discussing. But we have asked the draftspersons to look at the correspondence. That is, if we say, 500 penalty units, in the event that it is not that, what should be its corresponding term of imprisonment? So, I believe we can -- [Interruption.] Yes.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

So, we can put the Question and direct the Attorney- General's department to provide the corresponding sentences to the fine we want.

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

Mr Speaker, I fail to see the rationale for reducing the penalty units from 1000 to 500 for non-compliance with this provision. This is because, the whole essence of this Bill is to close loopholes and then provide deterrent sentencing regime for people who wilfully fail to comply. Why are we making it more amenable and easy for them to walk to the authorities and pay 500 units and still default? I do not understand that and I agree entirely with you. In one vein, Mr Speaker, we say that people must not be given the opportunity at all to misbehave with this Bill; in another vein, if one fails within two days to report, he or she should not pay 1000 but 500 penalty units. Why should that be so?

Speaker
Mr Ameyaw-Cheremeh

Mr Speaker, clause 13 (2) provides a lower limit and an upper limit. One thousand penalty units was the lower limit which has been further reduced to 500. The upper limit remains 2500. It gives room to manipulate between 500 and 2500. So, the upper ceiling is there. [Interruption.] Clause 13(2). So, Mr Speaker, depending on the gravity of the offence, the judicial officer may decide whether to award 500 penalty units or the maximum of 2500 penalty units. There should be some flexibility in the administration of the law.

Speaker
Dr Assibey-Yeboah

Mr Speaker, we conferred with the Hon Attorney- General and Minister for Justice. Now, if we go to the sentencing guidelines, 500 penalty units equate to two years term of imprisonment and because we had two years as the minimum custodial sentence, that is the reason we revised this one downwards from 1000 penalty units to 500 penalty units. The upper limit, which is 2500 penalty units, equates to five years. It was for the minimum custodial sentence that we had to do some rectification here. So, everything is fine as the Hon Chairman says. Let us put the Question.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, let me hear from the draftspersons --

Speaker
Mr Chireh

Mr Speaker, if we look at the issue he is raising as well as the offence, it should not be as punitive as he talked about. It is as a result of something being stolen. How can an infringement on this be punitive as he wants it to be? Why would that be the case? Mr Speaker, apart from that, we want to encourage people to use them but if we make it so punitive that people do not want to do so, they would hide one or two things. So, I think that the sentence should be accepted as it is and not as we would want to make it less punitive.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

In this case, I believe the offence committed is the failure to report. That is all. I think the 500 penalty units is reasonable. When a person in that distressed condition, fire or theft, fails to report, he has still committed the offence but we should give sufficient latitude to the judicial officerm to determine the appropriate punishment in the circumstances.

Speaker
Alhaji Muntaka

Mr Speaker, I would call that we stand this down and look at it well. Mr Speaker, why should reporting attract this high punishment? Even the 500 penalty units is too high. The reason is that if we look at what we did in sections 6 to 8, once the device is not avaialable there, one is supposed to get the supplier to bring it within 24 hours. If the person does not or when the back up fails, one can issue the Commissioner-General's invoice up to 24 hours and then stop operating. The punishment has been provided there. The person's items have been stolen and he is devastated, we are saying that if he or she does not go to report to the Police within two working days, which has nothing to do with the device and its replacement -- Should that alone attract this high punishment? Let us be careful. I do not know whether Mr Speaker was in this House when we passed the Act on traffic offences. [Interruption.] Ah! You were at the Drivers and Vehicles Licensing Authority (DVLA) office. [Laughter.] When we met him, we thought that would stop the carnage on our roads. We ended up putting so many people behind bars unnecessarily because we made it so rigid that the hands of the judges were tied. So, the moment one appeared before them, they either slapped the person with the high penalty units or if they could not, they went to prison. Let us be careful because we have provided enough mechanism to prevent people from trying to operate without the device. But why should not reporting on an issue, too, attract two years' prison term or 500 penalty units? One penalty unit is GH¢ 12. Five hundred penalty units is GH¢ 6000 for just not reporting. So, if I decide to close my business, trying to get the device and I forgot not to report after two days, why should that alone attract GH¢6000? Let us be realistic in what we are doing. Those of us who are business people know business operations and some of the challenges that go with them, so let us put ourselves in their shoe. For the device to operate so that people do not hide things and the punishment for its failure, I agree. But for the penalty unit for not reporting alone to be 500 --

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Minority Chief Whip, are we going to put a point of sales device at the entrance of your farm for the plantain or which food crop --? [Laughter.]

Speaker
Alhaji Fuseini

Mr Speaker, this law is not for good businessmen like him; they are for businessmen who will cut corners. But Mr Speaker, I agree with you and the Hon Chairman's explanation that lowering the threshold is consistent with the Act; so, I agree. Mr Speaker, but somebody could decide that he would, by himself, steal the device and not report it. So, these are the types of businessmen that the law targets. The businessmen who would steal the device and not report but not the likes of the Hon Member who are genuine businessmen.

Speaker
Some Hon Members

rose

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Let me listen to Hon Kpodo and then I will listen to you.

Speaker
Mr Kpodo

Mr Speaker, I think that what my Hon Colleague said should not have gone to the public. There are many genuine businessmen who do not have the devices, so this law is meant to get everybody to own and use them. It is not only for unscrupulous business people because if we give this information out, then the genuine people will say that they are genuine, so they do not need the device. I think he should explain that it is on the lighter side so as to exclude our Hon Minority Chief Whip.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

Hon Member, it is not on the lighter side. Laws are made because there are deviant people who would depart from the norm. Indeed, it is because we want to keep the deviant people within the norm that we prescribe “rules --” Do not go right, if you turn right, you have breached the law”. Ordinarily, 90 people without the law would not turn right; but those 10 people, if we do not prove the law and punish them, they will always turn right and make the country unsafe. So, he is not wrong to say that it is for bad people; that is actually appropriate. Yes, Hon Deputy Finance Minister?

Speaker
Mr Kwarteng

Mr Speaker, I would request that we step this down. I do so, because if we look carefully, the earlier subclause under clause 8 where we considered effective and malfunctioning device is the provision for replacement; how we report, its replacement, repairs and so on. In clause 13 we seemed to deal just with the reporting of the truncation of the use of the device without really making provision for a replacement. Mr Speaker, I get the sense that if there was such a provision, then we could load the stiff requirement there. Whether it got missing by accident or by somebody's engineering, if one defaults on replacement, then it is a heavy punishment. Its absence drives home the point about making this punitive. So, if you would permit us, we would step this down and introduce a provision to take care of the replacement in cases of truncation of use and then load that to be deterrent to those who will be tempted to exploit this.

Speaker
Mr First Deputy Speaker

You are right; but if the person reports then what? If he fails to report, can he operate with the Commissioner -General's invoices and so on? Those must be provided for. In that regard, the decision on clause 13 is hereby deferred. Hon Members, it is 10 minutes past 2 o'clock and it is time to bring proceedings of the day to a close. Consequently, I hereby adjourn -- Very well. Sorry, that is the end of the Consideration Stage -- Hon Members, the House is adjourned till Thursday, 1st March, 2018 at 10.00 o'clock in the forenoon.

ADJOURNMENT

The House was adjourned at 2.12 p.m. till Thursday, 1st March, 2018 at 10.00 a.m. in the forenoon.