THE Communications Service Tax Act, 2008 (Act 754) will now cover other information and communications technologies.
Internet services like voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) and other technologies that aid communication like voice mails have all been included in the tax to make it more inclusive.
The proposed charge of a pesewa per minute of talk time has also been changed to six per cent of the cost of using a communication service.
The Co-ordinator of the Tax Policy Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP), Mr Kofi Nti, in an interview, explained that in collaboration with the National Communications Authority (NCA) and other partners, a tax of six per cent of the charge of using the service was settled on as the best option.
That was due to the variations in service charges by the various service providers.
“A pesewa per minute means KASAPA users who, for instance, pay .08 pesewas (or ¢800) per minute will be paying eight per cent of that in taxes, which is about .06 pesewas, while MTN and ONETOUCH users who pay about ¢1,440 per unit will be paying 12.5 per cent of that in taxes, which will give approximately .02 pesewas,” he pointed out.
That, according to him, would be unfair to consumers on networks that charged relatively less.
He said it was also thought that a pesewa per minute could be expensive with time and might not encourage competition within the industry.
“With the six per cent of the charge of a service, competition will be vibrant among the service providers,” Mr Nti said.
He said the bill also anticipated innovations in communications technology and that such innovations could easily be included in that tax system.
On Section 2 of the bill that states that “the tax will be paid with the communications service charge to communication service providers by consumers of the service,” Mr Nti discounted public views on increasing taxes in the country and urged all to re-orient themselves to developing the country through the toil of its citizens.
He, however, said the tax burden would be proportionately borne by service providers and consumers, with the proportion of the burden on each group dependent on the demand and supply of the mobile telephony service.
Mr Nti called the tax progressive and proactive in adapting to the changes in the industry.
He said with the tax, Ghanaians would also be vigilant in monitoring the use of their resources and help in the development of their country.
Meanwhile, the ministry is drafting guidelines to implement the act, which, among other things, makes the Value Added Tax Service responsible for the receipt, management and payment of the tax into the Consolidated Fund.
DAILY GRAPHIC, FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 2008, PG30