Minister-designate for Communications and Digitization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has been requested by the Appointments Committee of Parliament to provide evidence for her claims that some Ghs 1.5 billion in government revenue has been saved through the KelniGvG telecoms revenue monitoring platform.
The request by the Appointments Committee follows her repeated claims in several media engagements, industry forums, on the floor of Parliament and just recently during her vetting for the position of Communication and Digitization Minister.
The Minister-designate under whose watch Kelni GVG was awarded the $89 million five-year contract to monitor the revenue flow of telecoms in the country, since 2017 has accused the various telecoms in the country of under-stating revenues to avoid tax charges.
According to her, government through the KelniGvG platform discovered telcos in the country hid over Ghs 400 million in taxes from the state, between 2015 and the first quarter of 2017.
Speaking at her vetting, she noted that the platform is further expected to deliver tax savings of approximately Ghs 800 million.
But telecom operators in the country, represented by the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT), have openly and flatly denied her claim, stating that in all their engagements with the tax collector – Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) – no evidence of tax evasion has been showed to them and no telco has been engaged with evidence of any tax evasion.
Indeed, the telcos said they are partners on the common monitoring platform, which is currently run by Kelni GVG, and as partners, they are yet to see any report that supports the claim of the minister.
The telcos have also said, apart from the usual organic increases they have witnessed in taxes paid to government annually, no significant increase has been recorded since the introduction of Kelni GVG Common Platform.
The telcos expressed worry that comments like that of the minister worry their investors, particularly when she makes the comment repeatedly without any evidence and without engaging the any telco with the details, which creates the impression that all telcos are culpable.
Due to this, the approval of her nomination as Minister for Communications and Digitization has been put on hold as she is expected to reappear before the Appointments Committee of Parliament and provide the much needed evidence.