Trusteeship bill deferred over misinterpretation
Debate on the trusteeship bill was on Thursday put on hold due to what MPs viewed as mix-ups in its conception and drafting.
The merging of the two concepts – a trust and the trustee – into one single bill appears to be the point of contention. In addition, after a deadlock during an earlier session, legal drafters from the ministry and the committee, who were jointly tasked with revising the bill, instead caused more confusion.
A trust is an arrangement, where someone or a group of people are responsible for assets for the benefit of another group of people.
The concept has its roots in the Commonwealth system.
In common law legal systems, a trust is a relationship between three parties whereby property, whether real or personal, tangible or intangible, is transferred by one party to another party for the benefit of a third party.
People assigned to administer a trust are known as trustees.
Trade and Industry Minister, François Kanimba, first tabled the bill before the lower chamber of parliament on June 23, last year.
Members of the committee on trade on Thursday asked the minister, who they referred to as an informed decision maker, to reword the bill.
On Thursday, government officials, Charles Furaha, a legal affairs manager with the Capital Market Authority (CMA), and Susan Asiimwe, a legal specialist from the Trade and Commerce ministry, failed to convince the MPs.
The committee’s chairperson, MP Julianna Kantengwa, told the officials that the committee had presumed that the duo had full authority to explain issues and make decisions.
At one point, Furaha said: “We even consulted laws from elsewhere and realised that it is not feasible for a law to talk about trusts because trusts involve many things. Instead, it is about those who manage them [trustees] and how they run them, their capacity and how they are appointed”:
MPs insisted the officials were contradicting themselves and causing confusion.
“Let us stop the bill, you go and consult on what you really want Parliament to do. Come back when you have clarity on issues and when you also have decision makers with authority on issues,” Kantengwa ordered.
She closed the session saying that the minister in charge should appear before the committee as he is the only one bestowed with political authority to determine how to proceed.
Debate was postponed to a later date.
When Kanimba tabled the bill last year, his explanatory note indicated that trustship had been there for long without clear supervision and regulation. The House paved way for the bill to be handed to the committee for comprehensive scrutiny.
There was optimism that a draft law regulating activities of trusts and trustees would maintain proper standards of conduct and acceptable practices of trusteeship.
Last year, Kanimba noted that the purpose of the proposed law was to create an enabling legal framework for the establishment, regulation and supervision of trusts.
At the time, despite MPs in the plenary session deeming it long overdue, most wanted more clarifications on the seemingly new trend.