MTN Ghana has held its annual Mobile Money (MoMo) Stakeholder Conference in Accra. This year’s MoMo Stakeholder Conference was under the theme ‘Digitizing Payments in Ghana: The Implications of Additional Taxes on Mobile Money Transactions’ to encourage public dialogue on the possible implications of additional taxes on mobile money transactions.
In a presentation to demonstrate socio-economic impacts on the possible introduction of additional taxes on Mobile Money Service and lessons from similar deployments, General Manager of MTN Mobile Financial Services, Eli Hini, indicated that: “Taxation will undermine financial inclusion, as mobile money contributes heavily to financial inclusion and enables efficient payments for goods and services”.
Mr. Hini further indicated that taxation will widen the poverty gap. “In Ghana, 24.2% of the population are below the poverty line; the negative impact of taxing mobile money transactions is likely to fall most heavily on these individuals. Imposing taxes may increase the percentage within the poverty bracket,” he added.
The MTN MoMo stakeholder conference brought together stakeholders from all sectors with distinguished speakers including Dr. Maxwell Opoku Afari-1st Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana; Mrs. Abena Osei-Poku-Managing Director Barclays Bank; and Steve Rasmussen- Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP); and the Deputy Minister for Finance, Hon. Kwaku Agyeman Kwarteng, leading the discussions.
Mr. Steve Rasmussen of CGAP urged Ghana not to be hasty in introducing additional taxes on mobile money, but rather have broader stakeholder dialogue on the effects on the other sectors of the economy. He commended MTN for taking the lead in driving financial inclusion.
Dr. Maxwell Opoku Afari, First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, acknowledged the geometric rate at which Ghana is achieving its financial inclusion. He urged all the stakeholders to work together on reducing cash-outs in the country’s mobile money payments system.
Mrs. Abena Osei-Poku, Managing Director Barclays Bank, in her address advised government to take the entire financial system into consideration before introducing taxes. This, she noted, will ensure tax compliance. “The vulnerable should also be considered, since they will be the ones affected if any additional taxes are introduced,” she said.
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Kwaku Kwarteng who was among the panelist at the conference said: “Mobile Money remains our best bet for ensuring financial inclusion, and government will not do anything to jeopardise the efficiency of the Mobile Money system”. He also said: “Digital payment systems afford government the prevention of wastage, corruption and irregularities in the management of public funds”. He noted that if government decides to do anything related to Mobile Money, it will take these benefits into consideration.
He commended MTN for its contribution to the growth of Ghana’s economy and pledged government’s partnership with the private sector to fight poverty. He noted that government is moving from taxation to production so as to ensure private sector growth.
The annual MTN MoMo Stakeholder Conference forms part of activities outlined to celebrate the MoMo Month, a proprietary campaign organised by MTN Ghana to create awareness about the mobile money service and drive financial inclusion.
The MTN MoMo Service is delivered in partnership with over 17 banks, offering customers a wide range of services including payment of bills, airtime top-up, insurance, and employee salaries. As at July 2018, MTN MoMo serves over 9 million subscribers across the country.