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Government should review taxation in telecom sector

By Lydia Asamoah, GNA

Accra, Aug. 7, GNA – The Ghana
Chamber of Commerce has urged the Government to take a critical look at
taxation of the telecommunication sector by specifically reviewing the mobile
sector taxes to enhance efficiency and affordability.

“Government need to critically look
at mobile sector specific taxes, which need to be removed if possible, to
enhance efficiency such that the gains could be passed into rolling out
networks in rural communities to help affordability as well,” Mr Derek Laryea,
the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce (GCC), said
on Monday.

Speaking to the GNA on the side-lines
of the Sixth Edition of the Ghana Economic Forum in Accra, Mr Laryea said taxes
were good but data from 2015 GSM and Deloit Research showed that telecom was
being taxed in the same bracket as alcohol and tobacco.

“In Ghana telecoms are taxed in the
same vain as alcohol and tobacco, which are luxury goods and are “sin taxes”
aimed at discouraging people from using them.

Mr Laryea, who doubles as the Head of
Research and Communication at the GCC, said phones were no longer luxury goods
but are necessities that were helping people and boosting productivity.

He said the mobile industry could be
incentivised through the removal of taxes as a way of government’s support so
they could expand their infrastructure to places that were not covered.  

Meanwhile, during a plenary
discussion on “Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” Mr Laryea said Telcos needed
to support the upcoming tech start-ups much more than they were doing through
forging stronger partnerships and linkages to come out with innovative
solutions to help push the economy.

He said the very innovative young
people needed to be pushed by mobile operators to come out with more local
ideas and solutions to solve local problem.

“It is important to provide young
innovators with infrastructure and data for them to be able to develop relevant
applications to help grow a vibrant start-up space on the back of the telecom
industry,” Mr Laryea said.  

He said government should, therefore,
continue to stimulate dialogue to provide a platform for critical thinking
about the importance of each business idea.

“There is a room for more synergies
and greater conversations between mobile services providers and the younger
folks to inure support for more innovation,” he noted.

Ms Patricia Appiagyei, the Deputy
Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said Ghanaians
needed to interrogate their attitudes towards life to improve their living
standards and create the right innovative ideas.

She said the school curriculum must
change to make students more aware of their environment and interrogate why
things happened the way they do.

Ms Appiagyei said the Government, as
an enabler, was determined to come out with the right policies and legal
framework to protect and help people promote their innovative ideas.

She noted that at the moment the
Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy is being developed to guide the
country in its science and innovation agenda.

Mr Yoofi Grant, the Chief Executive
Officer of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, said young people must be given
the needed exposure to exhibit their innovation to earn a living.

He said entrepreneurs must be
protected and provided with incentives to thrive in the ever changing market
economy.

“It is said that the services sector
has outperformed many other sectors of the economy over the past half decade.
This growth has been driven by the telecommunications/ICT, banking, tourism and
hospitality sub-sectors,” he said. 

The two-day event is on the theme:
“Building a Ghanaian Owned Economy, 60 Years after Independence” and brought
together captains of industries and entrepreneurs to brainstorm on the
country’s economic challenges and chart the way forward.

The Business and Financial Times
newspaper is organising the Forum with Barclays Bank being the lead sponsor.

Among the issues being discussed are:
Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Investment in Ghana; the Energy, Economy,
Agriculture and Insurance sectors and how Ghanaian businesses could take
advantage to benefit from the economy.

GNA

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