Telcos sabotaging NCA’s Common Platform to ‘cover up’ tax underpayment?

Information available to us suggests that some Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are mounting pressure on government through fueled media reports to have the Common Platform (CP) contract withdrawn.

This according to our source is because there is a growing suspicion that most telcos have been under declaring their revenue in order to pay less to government by way of tax and; they fear the CP will expose them

The Common Platform (CP), which is believed to bring an end to this suspicion will according to reports provide actual real time information for the confirmation of costs of telecommunications service used by customers, helping the Ghana Revenue Authority to fully calculate specific taxes and levies.

Unlike the old practice where telecommunications operators decide what to pay to government as tax, Common Platform will independently value all mobile money transactions, within and across each telecom operator’s network, allowing government through the GRA to readily calculate government’s portion of taxes as the transactions happen.

This according to available information is unfavourable to some telcos.

In June this year, Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful intimated that the government had no means of checking if information provided by the telcos was “accurate”.

According to her, it has been proven that network operators in Ghana have not always provided all the information that they ought to provide.

“In 2012 the NCA (National Communications Authority) did an audit of the one percent of the revenues that they are supposed to be paying to the NCA.”

It was discovered that “all the telcos have been under declaring and underpaying the one percent of the revenue they were required to pay,” she revealed.

“It is imperative that we hold their feet to the fire, so to speak, and crosscheck all the information they provide…its legitimate government takes its cut from the money they make,” Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said justifying the need for the common platform (CP).

The Common Platform solution will save government and people of Ghana approximately (GHS297 million). The project allows Ghana to make a huge saving of fifty-five percent (55 percent) on the costs of the two contracts that previously existed.

For less than half the price, the Common Platform service offers additional features in actual real-time call volume and value verification and confirmation, processing and reporting, mobile money reporting and SIM-Box fraud detection and identification.

Additionally, Common Platform saves the government more than US$$1.1 million monthly or US$66 million over the five years term of the contract.