The Minister of Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has announced that with effect from January 1, 2020, all mobile phone users would be required to undergo a re-registration of their cards.
This according to her was in line with the strict compliance of the law on the acquisition and registration of SIM cards in the country.
"Even though the SIM Registration regulations are still in force, it is not being enforced due to the lack of an acceptable, fake proof, identification card and non-existence of verification by a national database to ensure the traceability of individuals who registered the SIM card," she stressed.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful disclosed this in Accra yesterday when her Ministry took its turn at the Meet-the-Press Series organised by the Ministry of Information.
She said the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration, 2011 (L.I. 2006) primarily to reduce mobile phone related crimes such as prank calls, cyber-crime, mobile money fraud and its related issues and general security.
Furthermore, it was intended to help the law enforcement agencies to identify the SIM card owners, track criminals who use phones for illegal activities, curb incidents such as phone theft, hate text messages, mobile fraud activities, inciting violence, and to combat crime such as SIM Box fraud.
"SIM registration also enables subscribers to be properly identified for use of value added services such as mobile banking, mobile money, and electronic payment services. Due to the crucial nature of SIM registration and its security implications for the country, MNOs were required to ensure SIMs were registered properly before activation on the mobile network to avoid inconsistencies and fake subscriber identity," she added.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful explained that even though the law was still in force, it was not being enforced due to unacceptable and fake proof identification cards.
"Currently, there is no solution in place to integrate all the database of Card Issuing Agencies for the seamless verification of IDs used for registration of SIMs to be effectively conducted," she emphasised.
She said in addition to the challenges enumerated, her outfit had noted other deficiencies with the existing SIM card registration regime in the country including the sale of pre-registered SIM cards, the use of pre-registered SIM cards and fraudulent registration of SIM cards.
Mindful of this, she said cabinet had directed that all telecos fully complied with the law governing SIM card acquisition which required the presentation of a valid identity document prior to registration.
She said the re-registration exercise which would commence from January 1, would end on June 30, after which those who failed to take advantage of the moratorium would be deactivated.
Touching on the brouhaha the implementation of the three per cent increment on Communication Service Tax (CST) had generated over the last few weeks, she said it was wrong for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country to depart from what was the usual experience with the implementation of the tax.
She therefore called on the MNOs to desist from charging the Communication Service Tax (CST) upfront and treat it the same way VAT, GETFund and NHIS Levy are treated.
According to her, it was wrong for the MNOs to depart from what had been the usual practice in connection with how the CST was treated, just to burden consumers unduly.
"It must be said that from 2008 to September 30, 2019, MNOs have been absorbing the six per cent CST, and as far as the subscriber experience was concerned, and they suddenly decided to stop that practice when nothing has changed apart from the three per cent increase in the rate of the existing tax," she emphasised.