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Kelni-GVG contract smacks of ‘clueless policymaking’ by gov’t – IMANI hits back

Policy think-tank IMANI Africa is insisting there is something wrong with the controversial deal government has signed with Kelni-GVG despite the Communication Minister’s rejection of claims of corruption and underhand dealings in the contract.

Per the contract premised on the Communication Service Tax (Amendment), Act 864, Kelni and its foreign partner GVG are to operate a common platform that would monitor in real time the activities of telcos in Ghana to ensure that government is not shortchanged in taxes.

But IMANI and other telecom experts have raised a lot of questions about the contract, citing possible case of corruption, particularly on claims that the company has started receiving payment when its has not started offering its services.

IMANI argued in its criticisms that the contract is needless, dubious and does not pass value for money test, adding Kelni-GVG does not have a good reputation to be awarded such contract.

On May 31, Communications Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful told parliament the contract rejected claims of corruption, indicating that due processes were followed in the award of the contract.

Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Contrary to the criticism, she contended that the contract had passed value for money test.

Read:Apprehension over Kelni-GVG totally unnecessary – Ursula defends deal

However, IMANI in its latest statement argued the contract smacks of clueless government policymaking.

“Why should we be satisfied monitoring 80% of the revenues in the standard way and yet we want to pay $178 million over 10 years on the 20%. This is clueless policymaking”, it stated to reinforce its position on the matter.

IMANI argued that the contract does not give value for money taking into consideration the fact that the state will be spending far more money than it would earn as long as the contract lasts. IMANI does not seem to get the rationale behind that arrangement.

“If so, why do we spend $125 million through the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to collect, monitor, and assure all the $7.5 billion we collect, and around $25 million to collect, monitor and assure all the $1.23 billion we collect in taxes from companies in Ghana, but want to burn nearly 40 cedis in every 100 cedis we collect in communications services tax? What is the logic?” IMANI quizzed.

Director General of the NCA, Joe Anokye explaining operations of Kelni GVG to the media at Common Platform Centre
Director General of the NCA, Joe Anokye explaining operations of Kelni GVG to the media at Common Platform Centre

“Real-time monitoring” is merely pointless jargon

IMANI also described as “merely pointless jargon” the ministry’s claim that the contract would require KelniGVG to do “real-time monitoring”. According to IMANI, that is practically impossible except that the ministry intends to intrude the privacy of subscribers.

“‘Real-time monitoring’ is merely pointless jargon. Unless we take the telcos over and run them or we start building complex software and force them to use it, there is always a point where we have to rely on the telcos to tell us what they billed and how much. Plugging into anything lower than the billing system therefore has nothing to do with tax. It is purely about surveillance”, IMANI argued.

Critics have also raise questions as to the whereabouts of the owners of the KelniGVG Company and why the company is not responding to any of the issues raised so far.

But the Minister of Communications in a Press conference Friday, June 1, indicated that government is talking for the company because it is the ministry that contracted them.

She added that it would be a distraction for the company to speak for itself.

Read: Distraction: Ursula explains why govt is ‘speaking’ for Kelni GVG

Regardless, IMANI holds firm to its earlier claims that KelniGVG has credibility issues and wonders why they were selected for that project.

“Yet, the company was selected through a restricted tender process with zero transparency. The company doesn’t seem capable of even managing its own website and email. What really then is the government’s justification of putting their trust in them?”

IMANI not sponsored by any telco

IMANI has also rubbished claims that its members “know nothing about telcos” and that they are sponsored by telcos to do their bidding.

It indicated three of its members: Selorm Branttie, Bright Simons and Kofi Bentil are IT professionals of high international repute who know what they are about.

The think tank has also dared anybody with evidence that they have been sponsored to do a bidding for telcos to come out with it.

By P.D Wedam||Ghana

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