Is GRA Going After the Telcos- Does MTN Owe Billions In Tax Returns? – Tax Analysts Ask

The Minister Designate for Communication and Digitization Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, had informed the ministerial vetting committee that, government has been able to save an estimated GH¢1.5 billion in revenue losses through the Common Platform (CP) managed by KelniGvG.

Although this sound as good news as far as revenue collection is concerned, many business pundits have raised serious questions as to the reason why there could possibly be losses in revenue generation and collection.

To the Minister Designate, the said amount is in addition to some GH¢470 million in revenue taxes saved between the first quarter of 2017 when the platform was announced and that the amount wouldn’t have been realised if not for the implementation of the Common Platform.

But, according to experts, the Minister Designate had failed to tell the Committee and the nation in general as to the source of the leakages, and the companies involved among others.

Speaking to some tax analysts, they demanded to know why foreign companies like MTN are taking our monies away and whether MTN owes billions in Tax returns and if it is under-declaring?

They recalled that last year, it had emerged that Ghana could miss out on as much as GH¢400 million in capital gains tax following the sale earlier that year of MTN’s investment in a mobile phone tower business.

By that, Ghana may not be able to tax the sale because it took place offshore as MTN sold its shares in a company in the tax haven of the Netherlands, which owns the towers.

They also indicated that MTN’s latest financial results in 2020, published in August said its profit of GH¢1.6 billion from the sale is “non-taxable”.

Experts say, with the response the Minister Designate gave to the Committee, it is obvious that there are some companies which are still under-declaring and evading tax with little efforts by government to get them to pay.

“Why is MTN not paying money owe the nation?,” they asked.

They also averred that MTN seems to believe that it has got away with making profits in Ghana, without paying due tax there and yet wants to free-ride off the tax payments made by ordinary hardworking people.

Tax analysts noted that it is interesting to note that the US$89 million KelniGvG deal was targeted to monitor revenue mobilization from mobile telecommunication companies operating in the country, but it would be better if government revealed details and give answers to the raging questions emerging as regards MTN’s tax obligations.

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