Industry watchers are raising red flags that the much-touted Kelni GvG Common Platform (CP) for tracking telecom revenue that was virtually midwifed by Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, may have failed to detect alleged tax evasion by telecom operator MTN.
While the minister is claiming that the CP has since saved the country a whopping Ghc1.5billion in revenue losses, there is a strong suspicion among experts that the biggest telecom operator in Ghana, MTN may be using sharp practices to evade taxes in Ghana including the under-declaration of profits and the deliberate hedge against capital gain taxes.
Experts cite the example of MTN selling its shares in a mobile tower business that denied Ghana a possible tax of Ghc400million in capital gain tax last year.
The explanation for the loss to Ghana was that the sale had happened in a tax haven in the Netherlands and because of that government could not tax the income of MTN.
Later MTN would publish a financial statement in August 2020 indicating that Ghc1.6billion that it made from that sale was non-taxable.
Experts point out that it is in the wake of such brow-raising practices by an industry leader like MTN that Ursula Owusu-Ekuful had told Parliament’s Appointments Committee during her vetting that the Common Platform being managed by Kelni GVG is a water-tight apparatus that ensures that telcos pay taxes to the hilt.
In respect of the supposed Ghc1.5billion that she claims has so far been saved using the CP experts are wondering what the breakdown is. There are questions as to the identities of the tax-evading companies whose checkmating by the CP have led to the supposed tax savings.
Ursula Owusu-Ekuful as Minister-designate for Communications and Digitalization had not only touted the supposed Ghc1.5billion savings by CP, she had also claimed that the same CP had saved the country some GH¢470 million in taxes in the first quarter of 2017, the year in which the CP came on stream.
Experts are daring the Communications Minister to produce tangible breakdowns beyond the claims so that it can be verified that indeed, such huge amounts in taxes have been saved by the CP.