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General News of Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

I’m being called 'wicked witch' for imposing CST – Ursula Owusu

Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, says she is now being called a ‘wicked witch’ for imposing the new implementation of the Communication Service Tax.

According to her, she does not hold the power to impose such taxes but rather the Finance Ministry and government.

“I’ve been receiving text messages haranguing me for been a wicked witch for imposing this tax and I told them that I don’t have the power to impose taxes, that is not my duty. Taxes are imposed by parliament upon a request by the Finance Minister and government… there is such a huge kickback and it is understandable,” she said.

Following the recent debate on the implementation of the newly adjusted Communications Service Tax (CST) which has left the telcos in a head-on collision with the Communications Ministry, government has directed the telcos to halt the immediate deduction of the CST and treat the tax as they do to VAT, NHIL and GET Fund levies.

In her view, her outfit is asking the telcos to deduct incrementally rather than pass on the 9 percent CST to consumers upfront.

The telecommunication companies in their implementation of the nine percent CST are charging consumers upfront on every recharge they make.

In an interview with the minister on Joynews’ PM Express, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful stated that this implementation by the telcos is a deliberate attempt to make government unpopular.

“It appears to be a deliberate attempt to do so. They’ve denied it but it is as if, if you won’t give us at least four weeks before the imposition, the increase takes effect, then we will do this in the most painful manner as possible to cause disaffection against government.”

However, government has warned the telecommunications companies of punitive actions should they fail to comply with the laws.

“We had a good relationship with the telcos so far and we intend to continue cementing that cordial relationship…I am appealing to them not to push it because we are resolved to throw the book at them if they fail to comply. Which may resolve to the withdrawal of their license or reduction in the time of license and many other sanctions including punitive sanctions… no kidding and they should watch my lips carefully. We intend to enforce the laws strictly.”

The Ministry of Communication has charged all telcos to roll over bundles upon recharge and stop the expiring of consumer’s data, calling it unjust and enrichment on the side of telcos. Also she urged all customers who feel aggrieved to report to the regulator.

“It’s rather unfair to be holding on to capacity to which subscribers have paid for and say it is expired and so you cannot use it… the subscribers also have the right…I am asking all customers who feel hard on to report to the regulator and the regulator will take action.”

She added that the implementation of the CST will cut short activities of cyber fraud, sim box fraud and that better quality of service, benefit of unexpired credit among others.