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General News of Monday, 28 May 2018


Ursula Owusu contradicts George Andah on controversial $89m GVG deal

In the wake of the controversy over the $89million government contract to monitor revenues of telcos there appear to be contradictions between the Communications Minister, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful and her Deputy George Andah over what Subah Infosolutions did before government terminated its contract.

George Andah in justifying the choice of Kelni GVG to do revenue assurance ahead of Subah said the company was chosen because it is the only company capable of providing electronic monitoring of call traffic in real time.

"Up till now there hasn't been in the history of this country for early monitoring system real time.... the real-time monitoring has never happened", he claimed on Newsfile Saturday.

But a 2015 videotape shows a member of the Communications Committee of Parliament Ursula Owusu pointing out that SUBAH Infosolutions company was capable of real-time monitoring.

"We know that it does" she said during a meeting of the committee after another company, Afriwave had been chosen in 2015 to do similar work.

Ursula Owusu expressed concerns that the choice of Afriwave is a duplication of functions of SUBAH, a situation she said was at a loss to the taxpayer.

But three years later, Ursula Owusu now Communications minister announced SUBAH's contract has been cancelled because it could not do real-time monitoring.

Afriwave also had its contract redefined with a limitation to do only Interconnect clearing House monitoring.

Government has now introduced Kelni GVG as the company to do a similar job which Ursula Owusu said SUBAH could do in 2015 but could not do in 2018.

Real-time monitoring of call traffic is essential for the government to independently verify if the taxes declared by telcos to government is accurate.

MTN, the biggest in the industry has said it has paid 3.5bn cedis in taxes to the government from 2013 to 2017.

But the government has no way of verifying the quantum of revenue made and the taxes so declared hence the passage of the Electronic Monitoring Act to empower the government to monitor and do revenue assurance.

But since the passage of the Electronic Communication (Amendment) Act, Act 910, the government has struggled to do this because of resistance from telcos.

SUBAH, the first company tasked to do this in April 2015 had to rely on Excel spreadsheets detailing call traffic and submitted to the government regulator, National Communications Authority by the telcos.

Nonetheless, the government paid Subah millions of Ghana cedis for monitoring telecom revenue on both the local and international fronts, even though the NCA has said Subah does not do real-time monitoring as mandated to.

There has been a lot of politics since the legal regime to monitor telcom revenues was put in place. SUBAH Infosolutions was backed by the Ghana Revenue Authority despite resistance from the National Communications Authority.

The GRA returned the favour by also resisting the NCA preference of Afriwave, the second company chosen to do a similar job.

The New Patriotic Party government has introduced a third player in Kelni GVG and thrown out the two other competitors. SUBAH Infosolutions has however gone to court to challenge the cancellation of their contract.