THE Director of Budgets at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), Mr Kwabena Adjei-Mensah, has explained that the government’s decision to waive duties and Value Added Tax on imported mobile phones and substitute them with excise duty on calls made by subscribers is for a prudent tax administration.
He said the policy would end the practice of mobile phone smuggling into the country, reduce the cost of handsets for consumers and ensure that every mobile phone was taxed appropriately through the excise duty.
Speaking at a dissemination workshop on the 2008 Budget in Accra over the weekend, Mr Adjei-Mensah noted that consumers would not be worse off as the prices of mobile phones would also go down.
He said with advancement in technology and the right policy initiatives, the country was gradually getting to the stage where mobile phones would be issued by service providers at no cost at all to consumers.
Indications picked from other officials of the ministry at the workshop were that government was in negotiations with mobile phone service providers not to pass on the tax to consumers while importers of the phones would be monitored to ensure that they did not put any costs on the phones they brought in.
Giving an overview of the budget, Mr Adjei-Mensah, among other things, pointed out that the country was the only one in the sub-region that had chalked up a GDP rate of 6.3 per cent against the 5.7 per cent set for the region.
He also pointed out that Ghana was the only country in the region that had halved poverty and was gearing for a middle-income status by the year 2015, a target that was far above the targets set in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
A Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), Dr Akoto Osei, welcoming the participants made up of officials of the ministry and the Ministry of Information (MOI), regional and district budget directors and officers, as well as information service officials from all the districts in Accra, said no one could presume to understand the budget just a day after it was read to be able to meaningfully contribute intelligently to discussions on it.
He said for this reason, the workshop was organised for participants to study the document thoroughly to be able to explain government policies to the people.
“Your job is not to say that the budget is good or bad, but to let people understand what is in the document,” he told them.
The Deputy Minister of Information, Mr Frank Agyekum, in his statements, also underscored the importance of understanding the budget to be able to explain it to the people.
He said the 146 mobile cinema vans, new four wheel pickups brought in for all the 10 regional information departments, the newly recruited commentators and the drivers appointed were all to make the work of disseminating information on government policy much easier.