Ghana: Mobile companies unite to say no to airtime tax

Telecoms

Ghana’s mobile network operators have formally rejected government proposals to introduce an airtime tax on all voice calls, as announced by the Finance Minister as part of the 2008 budget statement presented to Parliament on 15 November. The government is planning the initiative to stop what it claims is a rising tide of untaxed mobile phones being brought into the country.

However, in a news conference held in Accra on 5 December, industry spokesperson Ursula Owusu said ‘The tax will disproportionately impact the lower cost calls on all networks, adding that ‘the very nature of this tax imposed across the board for all subscribers does not take the different social and economic means of consumers into consideration’.

She went on to point out that the country’s telecoms operators are already highly taxed. They have to pay a regulatory fee equal to 1.5% of their annual revenues and corporate tax of 25% on profits, as well as stumping up a number of ancillary taxes such as customs duty, national health insurance and VAT, employee tax and a business operating fee. Owusu warned that the new tax would have the effect of driving up end-user prices, a situation she says would be ‘inconsistent with the public’s persistent request that prices should come down’.