September 23, 2020

Telcos challenge Ursula’s claim of GHS1.5bn under-declared taxes

The Ghana Chamber of Communications has debunked the claim that the implementation of the Common Platform, has uncovered under declaration of taxes by mobile network operators.

This follows claims by the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful in Parliament, that government has made savings of GHc1.5 billion in under-declared taxes in the telecommunications sector since the implementation of the Common Platform (CP) in 2017.

In a statement issued by the Ghana Chamber of Communications, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, Kenneth Ashigbey, rejected the claim explaining that the claim by the Communication Minister, given on the Common Platform (CP) in Parliament on Friday, is almost similar to the earlier press conference held on 14th November 2019.

He pointed out that the telcos operating in the country “namely AirtelTigo, MTN and Vodafone are good corporate citizens, showcasing an exemplary record of tax compliance as well as delivering on all their tax obligations.”

The Communications Minister stated that,  “The introduction of the CP has uncovered that, prior to the introduction of the CP, ¢470 million in taxes was lost from potential under-declarations between 2015 to the first quarter of 2017 and an estimated amount of ¢300 million in taxes was saved between Q1 of 2017 to date as a result of the announcement of the implementation of the CP on March 8th, 2017 and its actual implementation date”.

But the Chamber noted that, “these claims although potential and estimated have not been brought to the attention of our members and on the contrary, the ongoing working relationship between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), National Communications Authority (NCA) and/or their technical partner KelniGVG regarding the Common Platform does not support these allegations.”

Mr. Ashigbey, further noted that, “the mobile industry is deeply concerned about the continuous recurrence of these claims, and the fact that standard audit principles and practice that characterise our members’ dealings with regulators continue to be breached.”

He asked government to engage members of the Chamber before making such claims.

“We are humbly entreating the government to engage with our members and all other industry players on serious reputational issues such as these before conclusions are drawn and same circulated with the public.”

“We also will seek an audience with Parliament through the Select Committee on Communications in the ensuing days to engage them adequately in addressing these allegations which have serious reputational effects on our businesses both in and out of Ghana.”

“We have requested since November 19, 2019, that this very report detailing these alleged tax misconducts as being espoused by the Ministry be brought to our urgent attention, but this request has not been met till date, and our engagements with the Ministry and Regulators over the last nine months has never contained such an agenda for discussion,” he added.

Mr. Ashigbey however stated that the Chamber has been working prior to the CP and now with the regulator to minimize the incidence of Simboxing as,” the act negatively impacts the network operators and the State, both losing $0.13 and $0.06 respectively for every minute of international calls which bypasses the legitimate  international gateways which our members have paid for to operate.”

KelniGVG was contracted in 2017, to build and operate the Common Monitoring Platform which is an integrated single platform connecting to nodes in the networks of all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the Interconnect Clearinghouse (ICH) where traffic and revenues can be monitored.

The Platform has four main components, that is fraud management, traffic monitoring, revenue assurance and mobile money monitoring.


Source: Business