The General Manager of MTN Mobile Financial Services Mr. Eli Hini, has stated unequivocally that taxing mobile money services will undermine financial inclusion and also widen the poverty gap in country.

According to him, government should rather consider enabling the growth of mobile money services by digitizing the payment of fees, rates, and taxes and levies due from taxpayers.

This he said, can both expand revenue mobilization and also support the growth of the mobile money sector.

Mr. Eli Hini was speaking at this year’s MoMo Stakeholder Conference was held in Accra , under the theme Digitising Payments in Ghana: The Implications of Additional Taxes on Mobile Money Transactions to encourage public dialogue on the possible implications of additional taxes on mobile money transactions.

“In Ghana, for example, 24.2% of the population are below the poverty line (The Ghana Poverty & Equality Report, 2013).
The negative impact of taxing mobile money transactions is likely to fall most heavily on these individuals. Imposing taxes may increase the percentage within the poverty bracket,” he explained.

Ghana leads the way in West Africa with a massive drive from cash to digital payments through the use of mobile money.

Mobile Money has had a significant impact on the Agriculture value chain in Ghana, particularly within the Cocoa industry (CARGIL, OLAM)
• Ease of payments
• Lower of cost of operations
• Safe & Convenient way of receiving payments(Farmers)
• Digitizing the value chain

While Ghana’s payment system has seen significant improvements over the past decade, particularly in terms of payment infrastructure, the country remains largely a cash (and increasingly cheques) society.

Taxing mobile money in Tanzania did very little to support public finances and to advance the many positive contributions mobile money can make to society.

“It is important that Ghana does not consider going in that direction as the benefits of the service out-weighs the exaggerated gains from taxes,” he advised.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Kwarteng, noted that Mobile Money remains the best bet for ensuring financial inclusion and government will not do anything to jeopardize the efficiency of the Mobile Money system.

He also said, “Digital payment systems affords government the prevention of wastage, corruption and irregularities in the management of public funds. He noted that if government decides to do anything in relation to Mobile Money, it will take these benefits into consideration.

He therefore commended MTN for its contribution to the growth of Ghana’s economy and pledged government’s partnership with the private sector to fight poverty.Adding that that government is moving from taxation to production to ensure private sector growth.

Mr. Steve Rasmussen of CGAP urged Ghana not to be hasty in introducing additional taxes on mobile money but rather have broader stakeholder dialogue on the effects on the other sectors of the economy.

Dr. Maxwell Opoku Afari (1st Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana) acknowledged the geometric rate at which Ghana is achieving its financial inclusion. He urged all the stakeholders to work together to reduce cash-outs in the country’s mobile money payments system.

Mrs. Abena Osei-Poku –Managing Director Barclays Bank in her address advised government to take the entire financial system into consideration before introducing taxes. This she noted will ensure tax compliance. “The vulnerable should also be considered since they will be the ones affected if any additional taxes are introduced”, she said.

The MTN MoMo stakeholder conference brought together stakeholders from all sectors with distinguished speakers including Dr. Maxwell Opoku Afari – 1st Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Mrs. Abena Osei-Poku –Managing Director Barclays Bank and Steve Rasmussen – Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP)the Deputy Minister For Finance Hon. Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng leading the discussions.

By: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/newsghana.com.gh

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