SIM card re-registration to commence January 30th 2020

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The Ministry of Communication has announced that, from 1st January to 30th June 2020, all mobile phone users must re-register their SIM cards to prevent them from losing their existing numbers.

According to the Minister, Mrs Ursula Owusu, this exercise will help reduce mobile phone related crimes such as mobile money fraud, cyber-crime, prank calls, etc.

This will help track down criminals who use phones for illegal activities because persons will only be allowed to re-register their SIM cards with an approved National Biometric Identification cards.

Furthermore, it will help law enforcement agencies to Identify SIM card owners and track down criminals who use phones for illegal activities.

She said, ‘’ SIM registration also enables subscribers to be properly identified for use of value-added services such as Mobile Banking, Mobile Money and Electronic Payment Services. Due to the crucial nature of SIM registration and its security implications for the country, MNOs were required to ensure SIM’s were registered properly before activation on the mobile network to avoid inconsistencies and fake subscriber identity.

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She made it known that, even though the previous registration was accepted by law, it is not being enforced due to unacceptable and fake identification cards which were used in the previous registrations.

‘’Currently, there is no solution in place to integrate all the database of Card Issuing Agencies for the seamless verification of identification cards used for registration of SIM’s to be effectively conducted.’’ She added.

She said in addition to the challenges enumerated, her outfit had noted other deficiencies with the existing SIM card registration regime in the country including the sale of pre-registered SIM cards, the use of pre-registered SIM cards and fraudulent registration of SIM cards.

She continued by saying, “It is quite clear that the current SIM card registration regime is deficient and fraught with many challenges, defeating the purpose of the SIM registration regulations. Mindful of this, the cabinet earlier this year directed the Minister for Communications to instruct all telecommunication companies to fully comply with the law governing SIM card acquisition which requires the presentation of a valid ID document prior to registration. we’re clamping down on crime associated with the use of these SIM cards, the Ministry has consulted all relevant stakeholders and thereby announces that from January 2020 we will all be required to re-register our SIM cards, any SIM card that is not registered will be deactivated by June 2020, given a 6month time frame for this exercise.”

Mindful of this, she said cabinet had directed that all telecommunications fully complied with the law governing SIM card acquisition which required the presentation of a valid identity document prior to registration.

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Touching on the implementation of the 3% increment in Communication Service Tax (CST) which has been generated over the last few weeks, She said it was wrong for Mobile Network Operators (MNOS) in the century to depart from what was the usual experience with the implementation of the tax.

She, therefore, called on the MNOS to resist from charging the Communication Service Tax upfront and treat it the same way VAT, GETFUND and NHIS levy are treated.

According to her, it was wrong for the MNOS to depart from what has been the usual practice in connection with how the CST was treated.

She said, ‘’ It must be said that from 2008 to September 30, 2019, MNOS has been answering the 6% CST and as far as the subscribers experience was concerned, and they suddenly decided to stop  that practice when nothing has changed apart from the 3% increase in the rate of the existing tax.’’

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