Telecoms Chamber refutes allegations of tax fraud

The Chamber of Telecommunications says it is concerned about the repetition of the claims, first made in 2014 by the Minister of Communications

The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has refuted allegations of tax fraud levelled against its members by the government.

Its chief executive officer, Kenneth Ashigbey, said members of the Chamber, which include AirtelTigo, MTN and Vodafone, are good corporate citizens that have an exemplary record of tax compliance as well as delivering on all their tax obligations.

In a statement, the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications said it was concerned about the repetition of the allegations, first made in 2014 by the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, especially given that its request for the report detailing the alleged misconduct has still not been met.

The claims

The statement is in reaction to a response given by Mrs Owusu-Ekuful when she answered questions on the floor of Parliament on Friday 7 August 2020.

The minister said the government has made savings of GHC1.5 billion in underdeclared taxes in the telecommunications sector since the implementation of the Common Platform (CP) in 2017.

“The introduction of the CP has uncovered that, before the introduction of the policy, GHC470 million in taxes was lost from potential underdeclarations between 2015 to the first quarter of 2017,” she said.

“An estimated amount of GHC300 million in taxes was also saved between the first quarter of 2017 to date as a result of the announcement of the implementation of the CP on 8 March 2017,” she said.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful told Parliament that by deploying the CP and other fraud management systems, the CP was able to record over 150,000 international calls into the country every month and thereby detect fraudulent activities automatically.

This, she said, has saved the country a tax fraud burden of an additional GHC327.3 million from SIM card fraud activities since the inception of the CP in 2017.

The response

The Chamber said the mobile industry is deeply concerned about the continuous recurrence of these claims, and the fact that the standard audit principles and practice which characterise its dealings with regulators continue to be breached.

The statement said best practice “will expect that such findings, if indeed they were the case, will be shared with our members for their response and reconciliation before onward engagement with external parties and the media”.

“We wish to once again, state that these claims although potential and estimated have not been brought to the attention of our members and on the contrary, the ongoing working relationship between the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), National Communications Authority (NCA) and/or their technical partner KelniGVG, regarding the Common Platform, does not support these allegations,” the release said.

“”We have requested since 19 November 2019, that this very report detailing these alleged tax misconducts as being espoused by the ministry be brought to our urgent attention, but this request has not been met till date and our engagements with the ministry and regulators over the last nine months have never contained such an agenda for discussion.”

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