Adnan Adams Mohammed
Telecommunication Operators in the country have been given an ultimatum to compensate all subscribers following the upfront deduction of the Communication Service Tax (CST).
The Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful gave the Telcos within 4-6 weeks to comply with the directives. She noted that, failure on the part of Telcos to adhere to the instruction will result in a sanction per the law emphasizing that “if you flout the regulations per the directives of the regulator, it calls for a suspension or revocation of your license which the law clearly states.”
This comes after Telcos were asked by government to put a hold on the 9% CST levy charged mobile phone users after a meeting with the Finance Ministry, Ghana Revenue Authority and Ministry of Communications. Government in the 2019 midyear budget announced a 9% Communication Service Tax levy to charged mobile phone users effective October 1. The taxation was met with an uproar from the public who said the charges were too much.
“They had a joint meeting last week with Finance Minister, Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Communications and they said would abide by the directives as given but the do need some time to configure their systems to enable it take effect and they will compensate the subscribers for whatever they lost within that period”, Hon Owusu-Ekuful noted in an interview.
In an earlier response, the Telcos stated that although they will abide by the directives, they needed about 16 months to configure their systems for it to take effect.
But, Hon Owusu-Ekuful said, the time frame given by her outfit is achievable if the various Mobile Network Operators (MNO’s) put their minds to it.
“…But I’m telling them If they focus their minds, they can do it in a short time. You know when there is a gun to your head, you work miracles.”
The Communications Minister backtracking the directive asked network operators to halt the deductions through the National Communications Authority (NCA) to treat the CST as how the Valued Added Tax (VAT), GETFund and others are done.
In another communique issued fortnight ago by the Communication ministry said it was “wrong for the MNOs to pass on the entire 9% CST on to customers and faulted the MNOs for making an astronomical profit by charging subscribers the entire 9% tax.”
The Minister assured the public that stakeholders are meeting today, October 24 with operators to fast track the timeline and resolve the issue.
“So, I just want to assure everybody that yes they have front notifications still ongoing but we’re working with them to ensure that that process takes effect within the next three to four weeks. That’s the timeline that they said they needed to configure their systems to effect it.” She indicated.