Ghana: MTN and Tigo’s offices closed in Kumasi for non-payment of taxes

Telecoms

Two giants in the telecommunication industry in the country had their main offices in Kumasi closed down by the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) for non-payment of taxes.

The companies, Mobile Telecommunications Network (MTN) and Millicom Ghana Limited, operators of Tigo, had their offices located at Nyiaeso, Kumasi, locked up in the early hours of Tuesday, with the padlocks bearing the KMA seals.

According to the Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Mayor of Kumasi, Mr. Clement Kegeri, the two telecommunication giants owed a total of GH ¢626.011 for the period 2009 to date, as property taxes on their masts erected within the Kumasi Metropolis.

He gave the breakdown as MTN GH ¢300,177 and Tigo GH ¢325,894. Mr. Kegeri said persistent attempts by the KMA to get the companies to honour their obligations had proved futile, as the companies were skeptical over the right of the KMA to collect property taxes from them.

Acting on the Local Government Act 642, section 34, according to Mr. Kegeri, the KMA had no any other option than to close down the offices, saying until the last drop of the final cedi on the debt is paid, the KMA would not open the offices.

He said section 34 of the Local Government Act empowers the assemblies to charge fees and rates on properties within their localities, saying the same law also enjoins them to issue permits on properties before construction, and also charge fees and taxes on them.

He, therefore, rubbished the claims by these telecommunication companies that the KMA could not charge them property taxes.

The PRO further disclosed that the fee fixing resolution of the assembly had been gazetted by Parliament, and for that matter, their fees and rates were legitimate.

He told journalists that the KMA, since 2009, had embarked on education on the need for companies and other property owners to honour their tax obligations, adding, "Sometime ago, this same exercise affected some radio stations in the metropolis."

At the time pressmen were sent to the premises of MTN and TiGo, a few staff and customers were seen standing outside.

On seeing the journalists, vehicles belonging to these companies hurriedly drove away from the premises to avoid the lens of cameras which were there to take photographs of the closed offices.