… Telecoms Chamber wants 19 cents per minute charge on calls scraped
The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has intensified its advocacy for the removal of the law that imposes 19 cents per minute charge on inbound international calls on telecommunication companies.
Data from the Chamber has revealed that revenue that has accrued to the state and the telecommunications companies have declined by over 200 percent in the past nine years since the law was introduced. In 2010 revenue accrued stood about GH¢360 million, but that figure has declined to some GH¢107 million in 2019.
The Chamber is therefore arguing that apart from the fact that the move fuels SIM Box fraud because some unscrupulous persons re-root these calls as local calls and benefit from them, the ever-changing lifestyle of telecom users is having a negative impact on revenue generation on that front.
Currently, many people are resorting to Over-The-Top (OTT) communications to reduce communications expenses. With this, they are opened to real-time communications solutions that operate over the internet such as WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype and others.
Speaking to the B&FT at an event to announce the key findings of a Mobile Industry Transparency Initiative study conducted by the chamber, Derek Laryea, its Head of Research and Communications, said that: “Year on year there is always a dip and I know in 2016 we had some policy statement just before the elections about looking at that tax policy.
For us as the industry we believe it is a leakage and it also fuels SIM boxing. If I am charging 19 cent and my local call is about 4.8pesewas which is less than 1cent, SIM Box fraudsters would take advantage.
More importantly the consumer behavior and pattern have changed and today you will see a lot of people making phone calls directed to over-the-top applications like WhatsApp, Zoom which is really the norm today at the back of the pandemic. I always make the argument that if I have a GH¢1 data and can do excess international call with it, why do I have to spend 19 cents which is obviously high for any consumer.”
He added that policy must be shifted towards the emerging pattern if the government is looking at expanding its tax net. “Consumers are always going to look for the legal cheap route to be able to make any phone calls and I think that policy and direction of the market need to shift towards the patterns that are existing. We’ve been making this point since.”
He initiated that, the current state of affairs is an affront to the free market policy of the state and therefore government must do well to correct the wrong, possibly in the next budget before little or no revenue is derived through the tax policy.
“It’s also too logical to fix a price in a competitive liberalized market like telecom. So, you have the competition but you are saying charge 19 cents, on economic standpoint it’s not too good, so it really needs to be looked at before we completely head towards zero which I see maybe the next two to five years.”