Ghana Parliament approves new phone taxes

By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana

Ghana’s Parliament has passed the Customs and Excise Amendment Bill, 2013 to re-impose a 20% import duty on telephone sets and other products. The telephone sets include mobile, cellular and satellite phones. It is assumed that the imposition of the levy on telephone handsets for the remaining half of 2013 would accrue GH¢49.8 million while the tax on plastic products would yield GH¢26 million.

The Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, who moved the motion for the bill to be passed on the floor of parliament, was optimistic about the realization of the said amount.

Previously, the government removed import duties on telephone sets in a bid to reduce prices of telephone sets to encourage usage. However, the gesture, according to the report of the Finance Committee, had not yielded the desired results as prices of telephone sets had increased over the period contrary to the government’s intention hence the need to reintroduce it on telephone sets to generate revenue and also create an even field for locally manufactured telephone handsets to favorably compete with imported ones.

It is estimated that the imposition of the levy on telephone handsets for the remaining half of 2013 would accrue GH¢49.8 million while the tax on plastic products would yield GH¢26 million.

Meanwhile the Communications Service Tax (Amendment) Bill has been withdrawn from Parliament for further consultation and changes to some clauses which have generated controversy.

The Communications Service Tax (Act 754), also known as Talk Tax, was passed in 2008. The amendment seeks to impose taxes on receivers of international calls and also for the receipt of text messages, as well as electronic mails. The proposed amount to be charged for each call or e-mail is equivalent to six cents (US). Any telecom operator which fails to comply and exact the charges will face sanctions, including a revoking of its operating licence by the National Communications Authority (NCA). 


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