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Opinions of Thursday, 5 November 2015

Columnist: AFAG

Telco's running Ghana down

The Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) over and over again, will continue to register our overt displeasure in what appears to be the complete dominance of the Telcos in the telecom industry with little respect to Ghanaian consumers and law.

TAX EVASION:

At a time that the precarious economic circumstances in the country is exposing Ghanaians households to needless hardships, we expect governmental agencies to sit up and plug loopholes leading to tax evasion. Ghanaians cannot afford to pay more for electricity, water, rent, clothing and food while Telcos continue to thrive with their through simboxing.

Simboxing is real and on the increase. If indeed the nation loses over $60million on simboxing per year, then it is clear the NCA has done little or nothing to stem this tax evasion fraudulent menace. Certainly the lost this year will be higher since virtually all foreign calls terminate as local numbers. We fear this will continue until an effective strategy is adopted and the necessary whip cracked by the NCA to ensure Telcos compliance. One thing AFAG can state for sure is that, we can't allow Ghanaian consumers to suffer over taxation while multinational companies use crude techniques and "creative accounting" to under-declare their earnings.

We are also aware of the high repatriation of US dollars abroad, which further deepens the woes of the cedi against the US dollar. A paper AFAG has cited points to a particular Telcos having transferred a whooping amount of 758m GHC as "management" and 'Technical" fees to their parent company outside our shores. This practice is not limited to one Telcos alone, it has become a standard industry practice ostensibly to evade taxes.

Ghanaian consumers expect value for money and this open thievery of revenue must stop. Also, the monies that are accrued abroad from international incoming calls must be remitted to Ghana and we count on the Bank of Ghana to liaise with Ghana Revenue Authority and the National Communications Authority to ensure this. NCA must act now and spell out clear performance indicators for social interest groups to use to hold Telcos accountable.

LESSONS FROM NIGERIA:

Exactly a week ago, MTN stated that, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) imposed the fine for failing to disconnect subscribers with unregistered or incomplete SIM cards, under a directive given to all network operators which the regulator said only MTN had failed to comply with. The NCC imposed the penalty on last Monday, hitting Africa's biggest mobile phone operator's stock price.

This ruling from communication's authority of Nigeria, vindicates AFAG's position that, Telcos in Ghana are being treated with kids-gloves in the face of similar abuses. AFAG deems any position of NCA as the position of law, and an act in good faith. Simply put, Telcos must be whipped in line or made to face the harsh provision of the law in the best interest of the public.

RESOLUTION:

If the NCA fails to take adequate steps to ensure fairness in the industry by the end of the year, AFAG will stir up public agitation against the NCA. We will demand public accountability of stewardship and call for heads to roll.

Certainly the public for which every Public institution represents have a right to demand for value for money from the NCA.

AFAG LEADERSHIP