Ghana: Pressure Mounts On Gov't to Probe Telcos

Ghana's government is under pressure to investigate telecom service providers, following a revelation that the government is losing millions of cedis to tax evasion.

The latest to mount the pressure is the Alliance for Accountable Governance, (AFAG), a pressure group in Ghana. To this end, the group has called on the government to conduct forensic audits into the tax commitments of the telecom service providers in the country. According to the group, those telcos found culpable must be sanctioned.

The Director of Operations at AFAG, Abu Ramadan, said the six telcos, namely MTN, Vodafone, Tigo, Airtel, GLO Mobile, and Expresso, are delivering poor services, and also evading their tax obligations. He, therefore, took a swipe at the telcos, describing them as "nation looters."

Mr. Ramadan asked: "There is a fundamental question which we must ask ourselves; why have the telcos resisted any attempt to monitor their earnings in an attempt to determine the right amount of taxes paid to government?" He revealed: "Over five years now, the telcos have consistently frustrated any attempt to physically monitor them, even in the face of the amended Communication Services Tax, Act 2013 (ACT 864)."

Ordinarily, the physical installations should not have taken more than three months to complete. Why has it taken five years? Ramadan questioned. According to the Technical Committee set up by government to, among others, check the matter, after five long years, not a single telco has fully complied with Act 864. The report revealed that the compliance of the Act by the various telcos is as follows: MTN 19%; Vodafone 69%; Airtel 78%; Expresso 91%; Tigo 90%; and Glo 88%.

This is an unacceptable situation, the group fumed. Why the government is allowing high profit margin corporate entities like the telcos to flout our laws in this revolting manner is a question for another day. Mr. Ramadan, therefore, implored the Mahama-led government to be proactive in sanctioning telcos which are looting the nation to maximise profits.

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