…Over NPP moves to milk money from imported phones
Apparent clandestine attempt by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government to make up for revenue shortfalls that are envisaged to plague government as a result of the replacement of the 17.5% Value Added Tax with a 3% flat rate have met with stiff resistance.
Mobile phone dealers in Accra are said to be apprehensive about moves by the government to police the imports of mobile phones into the country, and are absolutely unhappy about intent to make a Turkish company watchman over such imports.
Last Wednesday, Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, is said to have met with the leadership of mobile phone dealers and announced government’s intent to officially register every single piece of device that comes into the country.
In the company of representatives of a certain Turkish company and some telecommunication companies, she is said to have explained that the new regime would enable the government to raise massive amounts in revenue.
The said Turkish company is said to have promised the government that as much as $450million could be realized for government in the first year alone and that the amount could increase to $600million in the second year, with the Turks in charge of the policing.
It is not yet clear how much the government intends to levy per the registration of every handset.
As the leadership of the mobile phone dealers, who mostly ply their trade at the Tiptoe Lane, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, are known to be supporters of the ruling NPP, Mrs. Ekuful is said to have appealed to their love for the NPP, in the request for them to collaborate with the Turkish company.
She is said to have explained that the scrap of the 17.5% VAT rate and replacement of same with a 3% flat rate was pyrrhic decision that the government had made and that the projected revenue from mobile phone registration would go a long way to help government fill the revenue gap that will be created by the new tax regime.
Among others, Mrs. Ekuful is said to have explained that the current unregistered mobile phone market costs government a lot of revenue, as most of the mobile phones are smuggled in by importers.
She is said to have explained that the unknown extra cost that will come with the registration of the mobile phones can then be offloaded to consumers.
After explaining the reason for the policy, the Communications Minister is said to have aroused suspicion when she told the leadership of the mobile phone dealers that the discussion at the meeting was to be confidential and that it was not to be subsequently communicated to their members.
Consequently, the NPP government is seen to be trying to clandestinely impose levies on mobile phones on the blind side of unsuspecting dealers and consumers alike.
The leadership of the mobile phone dealers is said to have therefore resolved to resist the move.
Sources report that, subsequent to the meeting with the Communications Minister last Wednesday at the Communications Ministry, the mobile phone dealers held a meeting and took the position that the move by government is to be resisted.
According to information, in that subsequent meeting, the NPP government had been branded as a backstabber, because the move to stringently register mobile phones is seen as anticlockwise to the party’s promise, during the 2016 electioneering campaign, to make the mobile phone business more freewheeling.
Angry dealers at the meeting are said to have also branded the government as ungrateful because the mobile phone dealers, who had contributed financially to the election campaign of the NPP, had hoped that the government would rather make it cheaper to import phones into the country.
Some of the dealers were said to have also branded President Akufo-Addo as untrustworthy, citing his u-turn to clamp down on illegal mining after promising in opposition, never to stop galamsey.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels