The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications says it will meet with government on alternative ways to generate revenue in the sector.

This follows the proposed increment in the communications service tax (CST) from 6% to 9% by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.

Ken Ofori Atta 2019 budget
Ken Ofori Atta presented the budget review in Parliament on Monday

Debate on the Minister’s proposal is expected to commence Tuesday, a day after he presented the mid-year budget review in Parliament.

According to Mr. Ofori-Atta, the increase is “to develop the foundation for the creation of a viable technology ecosystem in the country.”

“This will comprise amongst others putting in systems to identify and combat cybercrime, protect users of information technology and combat money laundering and other financial crimes,” he added.

But speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Tuesday, Chief Executive of the Chamber of Telecommunications, Ken Ashigbey said there are other ways to generate revenue from the sector instead of increasing taxes.

Ken Ashigbey
Ken Ashigbey is CEO of Chamber of Telcos

He said the Chamber will call a meeting with the government to explore other ways to generate the monies instead of raising the tax on an already tax-burdened sector.

He said the Telcos already pay some 40% of their revenues as taxes to the government in taxes, noting that it would be a burden on the service providers to increase the CST.

Ken Ashigbey also argued that telecommunication serves as an enabler for other businesses to make generate revenue which can be taxed.

He noted that overtaxing the sector could impact negatively on the entire business community.

What has the gov’t said?

Reacting to Mr. Ashigbey’s demands, Deputy Communications Minister, Vincent Sowah Odotei noted that there are important issues that need solving in the communications sector and the government needs revenue to do so.

Vincent Odotei
Vincent Odotei is Deputy Communications Minister

Mr. Odotei said issues such as access to network connectivity are the priority of the government and since the telcos have failed to expand access across the country, the government has taken the responsibility to expand the reach to rural and deprived areas.

He said the government is working assiduously to expand the access to the entire country by December 2020.

“How can we do all these when we don’t have the money,” he quizzed, adding that “we have to start from somewhere.”

He said issues of cybersecurity are also important and the government needs revenue to fuel the institutions that would protect the integrity of the cyberspace.

The Deputy Minister said the government is nonetheless open to engaging the Chamber of Telcos on alternative means of raising revenue.