Common Platform has saved GHc1.5bn in undeclared taxes by telcos

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Private sector urged to invest in digital infrastructure
Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Government has made savings of GH¢1.5billion in underdeclared taxes since implementation of the Common Platform (CP) in the telecommunications sector since 2017.

“The introduction of the CP has uncovered that, prior to the introduction of the policy, GH¢470million in taxes was lost from potential underdeclarations between 2015 to the first quarter of 2017,” the Minister of Communication, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has revealed.

Answering questions on the floor of Parliament House, the minister said “an estimated amount of GH¢300million in taxes wasalso saved between the first quarter of 2017 to date as a result of implementing the CP on March 8th 2017.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful further revealed that through deployment of the CP and sophisticated, up-to-date fraud management systems, the CP was able to record over 150,000 international calls into the country every month; thereby detecting fraudulent SIM automatically.

This, she said, has saved the country from tax fraud of an additional GH¢¢327.3million due to activities of SIM Card fraudsters since inception of the CP in 2017.

“Over the life of the contract, the CP is expected to deliver tax savings of approximately GH¢799.6million, the minister stated.

On Mobile Money Monitoring, the minister disclosed that the CP has reported monthly usage for July 2020 of GH¢63.6 billion, 307.1 million transactions, with GH¢104.6million generated by the Operators in transaction fees, with further breakdowns of transaction types for informed policy decisionmaking.

Giving further benefits that implementation of the CP has accrued to the country, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful also mentioned that the policy has resulted in savings of US$1.1million monthly over the previous contracts, resulting in a total of US$66m savings over the 5-year contract period.

Under the previous NDC administration, the NCA was paying US$915,969 to Afriwave, while the GRA was paying US$1,675,492 to Subah – bringing the total payments to US $2,591,462 monthly.

The NCA, she said, now pays US$596,490 and the GRA US$894,735, a total of US $1,491,225 to service providers.

“Additionally, unlike the previous contracts, the CP offers realtime monitoring of 2.5 billion transactions per day within the telecom sector; such as calls, SMS, Mobile money transactions and other transactions.

Under Section 14 of the Communications Services Tax Act 2008 (Act 754), as amended by Section 7 of the Communications Service Tax (Amendment) Act, 2013, Act 864 mandated the Minister for Finance and Minister for Communications to establish a common platform as a mechanism for verifying the actual revenues that accrue to service providers for the purpose of computing taxes due to Government under Act 864 and revenues accruing from levies under Act 775 as amended by Act 786 of 2009.

Pursuant to this, KelniGVG was contracted on 27th December 2017 to build and operate a Common Monitoring Platform (CMP), which is an integrated single platform connecting to nodes in the networks of all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the Interconnect Clearinghouse (ICH) where traffic and revenues can be monitored.

The National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) are the implementing agencies and beneficiaries of this project.

The CP has four main components: that is fraud management, traffic Monitoring, revenue assurance & mobile money monitoring.

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