Cell phones

The Ghana government on Friday withdrew the Communications Service Tax Bill from Parliament to seek further stakeholder consultations before the House considers the amendments sought to the legislation passed in 2008.

The Bill sought to exact additional levies on international calls and data transmission, as well as address revenue loss as a result of loopholes in that regulation, but legislators and industry players are sharply divided over the move, calling for a truncation of the process because consumers would be hard done.

Reliable sources in the Majority caucus in Parliament confirmed that consideration of the bill had been put on hold owing to concerns by stakeholders that approval of the legislation would amount to double taxation of consumers who are already paying tax on every minute of talk time.

The sources said the arguments and reservation being expressed by interested parties on that statute, including the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, meant further consultation and consideration should be given to find a common ground for consensus.

Government is seeking to charge some six cents on every minute of calls originating from outside Ghana, insist that loses close to Gh?45 million every month due to irregular and fraudulent activities in that sector.

The Bill required an amendment to some provisions in the Communications Service Tax Act, 2008 (Act 754) to clarify the scope and coverage of the tax and include interconnection services within the tax base.

The introduction of the Bill earlier in the week in Parliament generated heated exchanges with the minority objecting to certain portions of the document which lacked clarity and contravened international agreements.

The Bill also sought to sanction telecommunications operators, to the point of revocation of operating license by the national Communications Authority, if they failed to comply and exact the charges prescribed.

Debate on the Bill was expected to be concluded Friday for the House to give assent to it.

Source: GNA


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