Minister for Communications, Madam Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, is on record as giving a hint that there is a tax on mobile money transactions under consideration. The minister gave this hint last year when she faced the Parliamentary Appointments Committee as she was being vetted on her nomination by the president.
However, the suggestion has not gone down too well with some industry players – who feel the move is an affront/impediment to financial inclusion in the country. Considering the low access to formal financial services by many in the country, mobile money came as a great solution.
Globally, about 2 billion adults lack access to formal financial services. And the case is not different in Ghana and most part of sub-Saharan Africa. But with the arrival of mobile money technology, most nations across the continents are embracing the need for financial inclusion through mobile money. It is widely touted as a driver for financial inclusion in many developing countries.
Ghana is joining the bandwagon, but it is estimated the country is doing so at a slower pace compared to the success stories of Kenya and Tanzania. Therefore, it would serve as a great disincentive to the growth of mobile money and financial inclusion if a tax was slapped on mobile money services.
The Minority in Parliament have vehemently opposed the introduction of any proposed mobile money tax, but the Majority has refuted such a claim. However, given what the Minister of Communications was purported to have stated during her vetting last year, it gives room for such speculation if there has not been any official announcement to counter the assertion.
Rather, government is being called upon to view the introduction of mobile money services as an enabler to develop the digital economy, or a cash-lite economy, rather than seeking to stifle its operations.
Admittedly, we have a large informal economy in the country that needs to be formalised to attain the levels of economic growth that we aspire to as a people. Mobile money service is an innovation that ropes the largely unbanked into the formal economy and therefore should be encouraged.