A Dzodze District Magistrate Court on Tuesday discharged Mr Chitti Babu, General Manager of Diamond Cement Ghana Limited (DCGL), who has been charged with three counts of violating the Social Security Law, lodged by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
Mr Babu pleaded not guilty to the counts of failing to register non-African Workers, failing to pay social security contributions and failing to pay penalty on delayed payment of social security contributions, contrary to relevant sections of PNDC Laws 241 and 247 of 1991.
The court, presided over by Mr Nelson Agbevor, a circuit Court Judge, however, referred the first count – whether expatriate workers of DCGL must contribute to the SSNIT Scheme – to the High Court for interpretation.
In the writ, SSNIT also prayed the court to impose a three per cent penalty amounting to 18.3m cedis on DCGL for defaulting in paying the contributions of its Ghanaian employees between September 2000 and March 2004.
SSNIT prosecutor, Adumako Mensah told the court that Mr Babu is an expatriate on a six-year limited contract with DCGL, which also has in its employment 123 local workers and 13 other expatriates. According to the prosecutor, though the 14 expatriates received monthly salaries on which they pay income tax, DCGL persistently failed to register and pay their 17.5 perc ent monthly social security contributions to SSNIT.The arrears of the unpaid contributions totaled 78.96m cedis between January, 2003 and March, 2004.
Mr Ernest Gaewu, Counsel for the accused, submitted that the 14 were on varying limited contracts of between six months and six years to train their Ghanaian counterparts on the machines and would therefore not stay long in the country to benefit when they contributed to the scheme.
He said the 58-year-old accused has an un-expired term of only two years to retire. Counsel also argued that the provisions of the Social Security Law PNDC Law 247 and the Social Security Regulations of 1973 do not apply to expatriate staff, and submitted further that since a company or a Ghanaian worker under some circumstances may opt from the SSNIT Scheme, it goes without saying that there are exceptions to the General Provisions.
In his ruling Mr Agbevor said the SSNIT prosecutor did not follow the laid down Criminal proceedings under PNDC Law 247, which orders that such proceedings may only be conducted by the Attorney General or any officer of SNNIT authorized by the AG.
He said there had been no such fiat by the AG exhibited or referred to in the entire proceedings, suggesting that the prosecutor was unqualified before the court.