January 8, 2018.
ACT 89: A GOOD LAW THAT ONLY REQUIRES AN AMENDMENT, PROPER DATA COLLECTION AND A REGULATION TO OPERATIONALISE SAME.
There has been a heated debate on the payment of TV Licence in these few past days. The Center for Constitutional Order (CENCORD) has monitored the debate with keen interest. This is the Center’s take on the whole TV Licence brouhaha.
Some of the issues raised, inter-alia, are in the manner infra;
- Whether or not the law in existence, which is The Television Licensing Act, 1966 (Act 89) as revised is obsolete and cannot deal with test of modern trend of what we call Television.
- Whether or not the monies collected by Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (hereinafter called ‘GBC’) from TV licence fee is an Internally Generated Fund that can be retained and/or distributed by them.
- Whether or not there has been a regulation to operationalize the Act.
The issues raised supra only lead to one vital conclusion: the importance of this piece of legislation. What came out of the conclusions drawn by many good Ghanaians is the difficulty or lack of implementation. In this assessment of implementation leg, it appears that this has escaped the nation: the failure of duty of the state and its agency GBC. This duty indeed sits on the following:
- Proper Data Collection.
- A sound Regulation by way of Legislative Instrument, LI.
- The required amendment as times roll over into the digital and technological age.
Proper Date Collection:
Act 89 as amended requires that GBC and the State request and receive relevant information by way of data collection in order to properly secure TV Fees upon the issuance of TV Licence. This duty is captured in sections 6, 7 and 8 of the Act.
Under section 6 of Act 89, dealers who sell, hire or distribute TV sets are required by law to file before GBC a monthly returns. This monthly returns has to indicate the following:
The names and addresses of the recipients by way of selling, hiring, or distribution of TV receiving sets during the month.
All sellers and hirers are also required to file returns of their sales, purchases and hiring to GBC within 15 days upon the expiry of the selling, purchasing, or hiring month. This returns shall also include the names and addresses of the recipients.
Under section 7 of the Act, manufacturers and assemblers of TV receiving sets such as Apostle Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka and GN Electronics, shall file monthly returns to GBC. The returns shall indicate:
The number of television receiving sets manufactured and or assembled during the month.
This returns shall be had within 15 days upon the expiry of the month within which the manufacturing and assembling of TV receiving sets were effected.
And under section 8 of the Act, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise shall file monthly returns before GBC. This returns shall indicate:
- The names and addresses of the persons who imported television receiving sets during the month.
- The number of such imported sets during the month.
The Commissioner ought to file this returns within 15 days upon the expiry of the month in issue.
Reading these sections of the law, it is so sound to assert this good law was so properly structured to survive on good data. Interestingly, GBC has no such data. For 52 years it went to sleep and the rest of the State slumbered.
A sound Regulation by way of Legislative Instrument, LI:
Regulation 12 (1) of the NLCD 89 stipulated that “The Secretary responsible for Information may by legislative instrument make regulation for carrying into effect the provisions of this Decree”. However, the revised edition did not specifically name the Minister responsible for Information but it can be implied mutatis mutandis that Minister responsible for Information should have come up with comprehensive regulation to make the Act effective. Moreover, section 12 of Act 89 states;
2) Without prejudice to the general effect of sub-section 1 of this section, regulations may be made under that sub-section
- a) for prescribing or providing for anything required or authorized to be prescribed or provided for by regulations under this Act
- b) for prescribing the form of any licence to be issued under this Act
- c) for prescribing the fees to be charged in respect of the issue of any such licence
- d) for prescribing the conditions to apply to any such licence
- e) for exempting any person from any of the provisions of this Act
Even though section 2 (1) of Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 (Act 793) transferred power to the Minister responsible for Finance to determine fees and charges, it is only a part of the sub-section of the Act and therefore does not make it a regulation that can operationalize the entire Act.
The State refused and/or failed to promulgate the required Regulation as stated under sections 12 of the Act for potent operationalization of this good law.
The required amendment as times roll over digital and technological age:
The state could not also match the law with the rolling times so as to amend same to match the trends of technological advancement so as to capture the smart TVs and phones inter alia. The solution is to amend the existing law accordingly to capture same.
We say let the law stay. Amend same where necessary. Gather the required data. Make the Regulation for the operationalization of the entire law and stay wakeful to implement the law so as to meet the object for which it was so made.
Solomon Osei Fosu