The Member of Parliament for Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam Constituency, Cassiel Ato Forson, has described as illegal an instruction by the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, to telecommunications companies to conceal new tariff deductions on the Communications Service Tax (CST).
The Minister in a letter dated October 9, 2019 directed telecommunications companies in the country to treat the CST the same way other taxes like VAT, NHIL and GETFund are treated.
This directive from the Minister comes after the telecom companies decided to directly impose the tax on subscribers contrary to previous decision to absorb that tax.
Some MPs felt the decision to impose the new deductions on subscribers was making the government unpopular with the sector minister subsequently instructing telcos to stop notifying subscribers about the deductions.
On Monday, October 14, Mr Ato Forson, who is the Ranking Member on the Finance Committee of Parliament, said the Minister of Communications has no locus to instruct the telcos on what to do.
He stated that under the Revenue Administration Act 2009, Act 791, the administration and management of tax revenues reside solely in the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Secondly, he stated, the CST Act 2019 does not apply the principles of the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act 2013, Act 870.
“From the two Acts, the Minister of Communications does not have the powers to issue an administrative order on how a tax policy should be implemented.”
Mr Forson said that Mrs Owusu-Ekuful’s directive “is, therefore, an illegal act and should be withdrawn with immediate effect”.
He said if government wishes for CST to be treated same manner as VAT, the Ministry of Finance should be encouraged to present the CST Act for amendment.
“It is unconscionable for the government to increase the CST but insist that telecommunications companies hide the deductions from the consumers.
“If government thinks the policy is making it unpopular, it should come to Parliament to repeal the Act.”