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Telecom coys being forced to comply with controversial ‘Kelni-GVG’ over revenue assurance

Image result for Ursula Owusu-Ekuful,
Adnan Adams Mohammed
Telecommunication network companies operating in the country have been given 11 days deadline to allow Kelni-GVG, on behalf of Government of Ghana, monitor their call traffic and to increase its supervisory role on tax compliance.
This comes amidst, the wild scandalous controversies surrounding the deal between the government of Ghana and Kelni-GVG, as pressure mounts on government to terminate the contract.

However, the Communication minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, speaking on the floor of Parliament last week, said companies who fail to comply within 30 days, will pay a penalty of 5% of audited revenue of the previous year’s operations as stipulated by law.

If the infraction persists after 90 days, their licences could be revoked, she said and warned ” let me serve this notice that we will enforce this provision fully”.

The minister noted that, only Vodafone and Glo Ghana are cooperating with government to allow a private contractor Kelvin GVG to connect to their nodes.

“I expect the others to do so shortly. Their deadline for final connection….is 11 June 2018”, she warned.

AirtelTigo, MTN, Expresso are yet to comply with the government’s plan to implement the Electronic Communications Act. The law was passed after government said it had no way of verifying that the taxes paid by telecom companies is commensurate with the call traffic it generates.

Government has had to rely exclusively on information submitted by telcos which is then used to determine how much taxes it must pay.

This information, known as Call Data Records (CDRs) “could be manipulated”, the minister said and explained there are “no guarantees that they have not been tampered with.”

Ghana’s biggest telecommunication industry MTN said it makes at least GHC9.3 million in revenue every day. It says it paid GHC1.218 billion in taxes in 2017 and after four years, it brings MTN’s contribution to the tax kitty at GHC3.515 billion.

But government suspects there could be more from MTN and others should be paying hence the new law. Ursula Owusu criticised non-compliant telecos for trying to regulate the regulator.

“Why this continued fear of the regulator getting access to the raw data from the same sources the multinational organisations derive their data from for independent verification and analysis”, she wanted to know.

“It is only in Ghana that network operators feel they can dictate how the regulator regulates them”, she said.

She said that “smacks of disrespect of our laws” for some companies to resist the government fr
om implementing the law and called their concerns that the connections could compromise data privacy of clients a “facade” to frustrate government.

She said these fears are not borne out of facts because Kelni GVG and the regulator National Communications Authority are data protection compliant.

She observed that these multinational companies are not complaining about privacy issues in countries like Rwanda and Uganda where their systems are monitored by GVG and called their fears “completely unjustified”.

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