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Parliament passes Air Navigation, Plant Variety Protection bills

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman

Parliament has passed two bills — the Air Navigation Services Agency Bill, 2020 and the Plant Variety Protection Bill, 2020.

The Air Navigation Services Agency Bill will establish the Air Navigation Services Agency to provide air navigation services within Ghana’s airspace  and any other airspace within the control of Ghana and take over the service which is currently being performed by the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

The establishment of the agency will ensure Ghana’s compliance with international regulations, the avoidance of compromises in operations, improve decision-making and prevent the publication of flight information depicting the region as unsafe.

It will also enable Ghana to have an upper hand over its peers, as it will not only enhance service delivery in air navigation within the Accra Flight Information Region but also build capacity for consultancy in the sub-region and other jurisdictions.

The agency will provide a perfect opportunity to render navigation operation support across the world, leading to increased revenue and advancing Ghana’s reputation.

Autonomy of the agency

A report by Parliament’s Committee on Roads and Transport said it was important that the agency providing air navigation services be structured to function effectively as a regulator and provider of air navigation services.

It said to meet standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), it was necessary to have autonomous and centralised institutions with permanent satellite locations at civil airports across the country.

The agency will, after the law has received Presidential assent, start full operations within six months following the transfer of assets and liabilities from the GCAA, as well as the development of essential guidelines for its operations.

The establishment of such an autonomous agency will clearly separate the functions and responsibilities between the regulator and the service provider, as well as separate air navigation services from regulation.

Protecting rights of plant breeders

The Plant Variety Protection Bill, on the other hand, will establish a legal framework to protect the rights of breeders of new varieties of plants or plant groupings and promote the breeding of new varieties of plants in the country.

It also seeks to acknowledge the achievements of breeders of new varieties by making available to them exclusive rights on the basis of a set of uniform and clearly defined principles.

This, it is hoped, will promote the growth of the seed industry and safeguard the lawful rights and interests of plant breeders.

The bill will, furthermore, regulate the production, sale, marketing and advertisement of new varieties.

“Under this system, persons who develop new, distinct, uniform and stable varieties of plants will be entitled to apply for the grant of an exclusive right to that variety,” the report said.

It further indicated that protection would be given for a period of 25 years and 20 years for plant breeder rights and for all other species, respectively.

“During the period of protection, right holders will be empowered to authorise the use of the propagated material, subject to certain exceptions, in return for royalties. Additionally, right holders will be empowered to sue in the High Court in respect of any infringement of their rights,” it said.

The Air Navigation Services Agency Bill was presented to Parliament on October 20, this year, while the Plant Variety Protection Bill was laid on October 9, this year.