A five-member Business Law Reform Committee of Experts has been inaugurated to review laws that impinge business activities in the country.
The committee, which is under the chairmanship of Professor Justice S.K. Date-Baah, will consider the Companies Bill prepared by the Attorney-General's Office and solicit views on it from the business and legal communities and interested members of the public.
The committee is also expected to compare the provisions in the Companies Bill with those of countries such as New Zealand which meet best practice standards in the Commonwealth.
Other members of the committee include Mr Tony Oteng-Gyasi, the President of the Association of Ghana Industries; Mr Sal Doe Amegavie, the Chief Executive of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Mr Felix Addo of PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Dr Philip Ebow Bondzi-Simpson, a private legal
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Joe Ghartey, who inaugurated the committee yesterday, described the current Companies Code, which was described as the best in the Commonwealth when it was enacted, as too complicated and not in tandem with modern business practices.
He said a review of the code was expected to streamline business activities in line with modern business trends, adding that the committee was expected to make recommendations on what modifications, if any, to be made to the draft bill.
Mr Ghartey said although the committee had a target period of four months, beginning April 1, 2008, to finish its work, it should not be bound by the time but endeavour to provide a quality document that the business community in Ghana and the world would be proud of.
He urged the committee to make recommendations on what related legislation needed to be enacted in the light of the reform proposed in the final draft Companies Bill.
He urged it to also review bankruptcy/insolvency law reform in Ghana and consider the draft legislation currently under preparation for the Attorney-General. Mr Ghartey said the committee was also expected to deliberate on legislative measures to combat corruption in the private sector in Ghana and “make a recommendation, after consultations with stakeholders, for appropriate legislation on the matter”.
He said the committee must also consider suggestions and proposals for law reform from the business and legal communities in Ghana and determine what further areas of Business Law required reform and propose an action plan in relation to those areas to the Attorney-General.
Mr Ghartey said even if the bill was enacted into law before he left office, he would prefer that a policy document would be ready for the next Attorney-General to pursue its enactment next year. Prof Justice Date-Baah said it was the responsibility of the government to provide and maintain the legal framework needed by private enterprises to make their decisions on investments and economic matters which were critical to the country's economic growth and development.
He said it was, therefore, right for the government to monitor and assess the adequacy of the performance of the legal system.
“Where the legal infrastructure for the private sector is performing below par, it is again the responsibility of the government to intervene to get the framework right,” he said.
Prof Date-Baah said repairing the legal infrastructure did not only entail the facilitation of business operations but also their regulation and, therefore, getting the legal framework right for business implied getting the right balance between facilitation and regulation.
He said the committee would endeavour to bring to bear an independent but business-friendly mind on matters referred to it.
“Much work has already been done on the Companies Bill. Our first priority will be to assess, consolidate and complete this work. We trust that our new companies legislation, when enacted, will be a worthy successor to our existing Companies Code,” he stated.