A member of Parliament’s Communications Committee, Sam Nartey George has urged Ghanaians to reject the reasons for the recently announced increase in “talk tax.”
According to him, the explanations provided for the upward adjustment in the Communication Service Tax (CST) are baseless.
Sam George was responding to the Deputy Communications Minister, Vincent Sowah Odotei in a post-budget interview with Citi News’ Umaru Sanda Amadu in Parliament on Monday.
This was after the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta had presented the 2019 budget review to Parliament where he announced the increment of the communication service tax from 6% to 9%.
“The Minister of Communications pledged that the Ministry was going to take policy directions to tackle the high cost of data and voice calls in Ghana. Now, you have the Minister sit in a cabinet to agree to this increase. I don’t understand how this increase in CST will cause a drop in data. The Deputy Communications Minister stands here and makes a spirited argument on the back of what the Finance Minister said.”
“The Cyber Security Authority is just a bureaucracy. As we speak, the Minister cannot tell Ghanaians that we do not have Cyber Security Architecture in this country. We do [have] except that maybe he doesn’t know what is going on in his ministry. There is a National Security Advisor on Cyber matters,” he added.
Mr. Odotei also made a strong case for the government’s plan to charge more for the CST tax saying that more revenue will be raked in to obtain a robust telecommunication system.
“We need to look for other means to protect data in our cyberspace. Because, if we don’t do anything, the consequences will be very dire. We are in the middle of setting a whole National Cyber Security Authority as a regulator to make sure that our network and data and digital ecosystem is secured. This requires an amount of money”, he noted.
Government has announced that it is increasing the communication service tax as a means to create a viable technology ecosystem in the country.
“Government proposes to increase the tax to nine percent 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. The increase will not be earmarked, however, the sharing ratio will be adjusted in such a manner that the national youth employment programmes continue to receive the same proportions as they are currently receiving,” the Finance Minister has said.
The talk tax which was introduced in 2008 is charged on the use of communication services in the country including voice calls.
Data from the Ministry of Finance showed that in 2018, the government accrued GH¢420 million from the tax.