General News Mon, 26 Nov 2007

Minority kick against tax on mobile phone usage

Accra, Nov. 26, GNA - The Minority in Parliament on Monday described government's proposed tax regime on mobile phone users as a limitation on freedom of speech.

Mr. Alban Bagbin, coining the new tax as "talk tax" said: "When you talk they tax you....it is limiting our freedom of speech." The Minority Leader, who was on a point of order, was speaking in support of his colleague, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, NDC -Tamale South during his contributions to the debate on the 2008 budget, which began on the floor of the House.

Mr Moses Asaga, NDC-Nabdam, who also stood on a point of order supported the minority position and said the student population should be considered because some were living in the rural areas with no access to fixed telephone and it was therefore improper to impose such a tax regime on them.

Finance Minister, Mr. Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, on November 15, presented the 2008 budget statement of the government to Parliament with a proposal to derive maximum revenue from on mobile phone imports. "Mr Speaker, considering the situation, government has decided to abolish import duty and import VAT on all mobile phones imported into the country and introduce a more effective means of taxing mobile phone usage."

"Consequently, government proposes to impose a specific excise duty per minute of airtime use," the Finance Minister said in his presentation.


The Minority however, declared their intention to oppose the proposal when the debate began on Monday.

Mr Iddrisu said government should not pass on its inefficiency in tax collection on mobile phones imported into the country by devising a means to collect multiple taxes through taxing mobile service providers and users.

Describing the inability to tax all imported mobile phone as fiscal irresponsibility, Mr Iddrisu said public debate and discourse was going to be affected if a charge was placed on airtime because the public may not be able to phone in into programmes on radio.

He said this was going to curtail freedom of speech and expression because Ghanaians loved to contribute to public debate. Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, deputy Majority Leader, however said it was a simplistic way of viewing things.

Source: GNA