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Drowned USSD tax in Nigeria, resurfaces in Ghana one week after

Barely one week after the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isah Pantami busted a veiled smart move perfected by banks and networks to bleed off N4 per 20 seconds for USSD access to banking services, Ghanaian Communications Minister, Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful, has called on the Finance Minister and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to let telecommunication companies pay taxes on fees they receive on mobile money transactions.

Part of the introductory sms sent to subscribers by MTN Nigeria read as follows: “Yello, as requested by your bank, from October 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services. Please contact your bank for more info.”

Analysts say the unprecedented intervention of the Minister rescued helpless subscribers from another range of multiple taxation on digital services in Nigeria.

However, in Ghana, the telecommunication companies charge one per cent transaction fees on every mobile money transaction and generate GH¢71 million per month.

Addressing the media in Accra on the Common Platform that monitors the activities of telecoms, the Minister said telecoms ought to pay taxes on monies they earned on transaction fees so that government in turn would provide the requisite developmental projects to the people.

Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful noted further that apart from saving the nation millions of dollars, the platform also offered real-time monitoring of 2.5 billion transactions per day within the telecom sector, including; calls, SMS and monitoring of mobile money transactions as an added component.

Besides, the platform saved the nation GH¢205.6 million from the fraud management component since its inception and expected to deliver tax savings of approximately GH¢795.9 million.

On mobile money monitoring, it reported an average monthly usage of GH¢29.1 billion and GH¢195.8 million transactions, with the Mobile Network Operators generating GH¢71 million per month in transaction fees.

The Minister further noted that prior to the introduction of the platform, the nation lost GH¢300 million in taxes between 2015 and the first quarter of 2017 due to potential under declaration, while an estimated GH¢470 million was saved in taxes between March 2017 and to date, while a potential GH¢1.5 billion would have been lost, if the platform had not been implemented.

She revealed that Ghana saved $1.1 million monthly after mounting the Common Platform to monitor the activities of the telecommunications sector which was powered by an understanding between the government and the Kelni GVG.

Business Hilights Ghana Bureau chief recalls that Government of Ghana had signed a contract with the Kelni GVG, a Haitian ICT firm, in December 2017, to monitor traffic, fraud management and plug revenue leakages, as well as verify mobile money transactions of the telecommunication companies in the country.

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