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Ghanaian Telecos raise concerns over e-levy on electronic transactions

Ghanaian teleco companies have reported some behavioral changes from their customers towards the use of mobile money for payments since the Finance minister’s announcement of the e-levy. This comes as a great concern to them since the levy on on electronic transactions have not taken effect yet.

Some reports from media houses indicated that there were panic withdrawals fro Momo wallet a day after the announcement. The telecos are yet to respond to these allegations but have come out to raise issues concerning the slow down in payments with the Momo.

Sources from the various telecommunications admitted to they seeing a considerable reduction in the use of MoMo for bills payment, shopping and for other payments over the last few days since the E-Levy was announced.

The Finance Minister, Hon Ken Ofori-Atta, during his 2022 budget reading, announced a 1.75% E-Levy on all electronic transactions in the country, which included mobile money, online shopping, ATM withdrawal, payments via GHQR and other digital financial transactions. The idea behind this, he said, is to rope in the informal sector into the tax net, as a greater chunk of business transactions in that sector has been found to take place digitally due to Covid-19.

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The irony however, is that while the industry players give some discounts and waived fees due to the impact of Covid-19, government is rather using the boost in digital transactions due to the pandemic to implement a tax that is far higher that even the default service fees charged by the industry players. The default service fee is 1% or less, and the yet-to-be implemented E-Levy is 1.75%.

Critical analysis from telecos indicate thatnpeople are gradually returning to cash payments more than using MoMo and other digital wallets. The million dollar question is to whether the trend will continue until it derails the entire cashlite economy mission of the country, or what is happening now is just impulse reaction that will fade out sooner than later.

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, is being referred to somewhere last year when he spoke against the taxing of the Momo, saying that Momo is largely used by the poor people to access financial services thereby supporting the financial inclusion agenda. The new e-levy, to be taxing momo threatens financial exclusion.

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Meanwhile, Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said no one who transacts above GHS 100 in day is not poor. Hence the tax cannot in what way whatsoever lead to financial exclusion. The tax will exempt first GHS100, that will be transacted in a day as pro-poor measure.

Meanwhile, some industry groups have kicked against levy. The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications says it is “ill-timed”; and the eCommerce Association of Ghana says it will be counterproductive to the industry and to the government’s own financial inclusion agenda.

The members of the Chamber of Telecoms have presented their concerns to government for consideration as part of ongoing engagement, while eCAG is also calling for an engagement with the finance ministry to discuss their concern.

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