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Professor Nii Narku Quaynor, regarded as the father of internet in Africa, has criticised the introduction of the communication service tax (CST) and asked the government to reconsider the decision.
He noted that if care is not taken, taxing the internet would erode gains made in extending internet penetration in Ghana, which is a key developmental tool.
The Professor of Computer Science at the University of Cape Coast was speaking at the Ghana Internet Conference organized by the Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) in Accra on Thursday.
The Communication Service Tax was introduced in 2008, with the tax being absorbed by the telecommunication operators.
11 years later, the Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta in the Supplementary Budget to Parliament announced an increase from 6% to 9% but the telcos have refused to absorb it and have subsequently passed on the cost to consumers.
But Prof. Quaynor like other industry players argue that access to internet should be free.
“The internet is so pervasive in so many area, we shouldn’t make revenue out of it. We should rather focus on the benefits and if there are any successful benefits, then we tax that rather. With the strides we have made, we don’t want to go down the digital divide. Taxing internet, is worse than taxing fuel,” Prof. Quaynor stressed.
Concurring with Prof. Quaynor, founder of Silicon Valley in Ghana, Dr. Thomas Mensah, said government should rather deepen access to internet connectivity, to lessen the cost burden on the few users.
Meanwhile, the Finance Minister has said the increase in CST is to help develop the foundation for a viable technology ecosystem in the county, with the introduction of systems to identify and combat cybercrime, protect users of information technology and combat money laundering and other financial crimes.
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