BREAKING: Ursula Owusu & Finance Minister at War over Gh¢ 242 million E-levy contract

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The Herald’s painstaking investigation, has unearthed the shadowy private company handpicked to get the colossal GH₵242 million to execute the e-Transaction Levy Services from the government for monitoring the yet to be implemented 1.75% tax.

The identity of the company, has been established as ExpressPay Ghana Limited.

Their business description and principal activity were stated as “Commission Agents (Utilities Services), IT Services”.
But even before the deal could be sealed, this paper is picking up intelligence that there is confusion brewing between the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta and the Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, over which company should be given the job.
Insiders say, while the Finance Minister is almost done cooking the deal for ExpressPay Ghana Ltd, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful on the other hand, is pulling strings for the GHc242 million contract to be handed over to Haitian ICT firm, Kelni GVG.

However, insiders have hinted that Mr Ofori-Atta, is having his way and about to dish out the GH₵242 million deal to ExpressPay Ghana Ltd.

Ursula Owusu, had counted on Kelni GVG’s performance which had to deal with revenue losses and simbox fraud in the telecommunications sector and insisted they deserve the contract, Mr Ofori-Atta’s ExpressPay, however, appears not to have any track records as its performance is not known; it is difficult to trace them, because it has none.

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But The Herald’s digging at the Registrar General Department, revealed  ExpressPay Ghana Ltd was incorporated on July 19, 2012,  some nine years ago, with the registration number: CS063012012.

The company’s address and business location, was given as GP 13192, Adebeto Close Labone, with House number F305/6, Accra.

The names of the directors are; Kodjo Hesse and Curtis Vanderpuije. Mr Curtis Vanderpuije’s name was captured as the secretary for the company, per The Herald’s checks and documents obtained from the Registrar General’s system.

This paper in its Monday, December 6 edition reported that, it is becoming clearer that there is more to the 1.75% E-Levy slapped on patrons of Mobile Money by the Akufo-Addo government than merely “widening the tax net and rope in the informal sector” to raise revenue, but a grand scheme calculatedly hatched to take money from the poor and vulnerable for the rich and affluent.

Details identified in the controversial 2022 budget and financial policy statement, has revealed that a colossal GH¢242 million, has already been set aside to pay for e-Transaction Levy Services from the expected GH₵6.9 billion mentioned in the 2022 Budget Statement by Finance Minister, Mr. Ofori-Atta.

The levy, which will come into effect on February 1, 2022, is a charge of 1.75% of the value of electronic financial transactions, covers mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments, and inward remittances.

Aside from patrons paying network service providers various amounts as transaction charges, they are also to pay the government 1.75% as E-Levy.

Government, will further collect money from the telecommunication companies, as well as the banks by way of taxes, meaning the government is eating more from the citizens than the private companies who are eating from their customers; the citizens.

The GH¢242 million, has been captured in Appendix 4B at page 242 under the heading “summary of MDA expenditure allocation (GH¢) -2022” to go to shadowy business interests.

It is on the same list with Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, which has been allotted GH¢33 million, Ghana CARES which is getting 1 billion, YouStart which is getting GHC385 million, Agenda 111, which has been allotted GH¢518 million, GH¢1.8 billion for Pensions, GHC305 million for Gratuities.

The Akufo-Addo administration awarded a US$178 million contract to Kelni GVG, which is to block revenue losses in the telecommunication sector and simbox fraud, it is not clear whether the Haitian ICT firm will be executing the GHS242 million job.

Subah and Afriwave, were awarded similar contracts under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration to perform similar jobs, and National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) are the implementing agencies for the common platform with Kelni GVG as Service providers.

As many people, including those in the informal sector, use mobile money, the government sees it as an easy way of taxing the informal sector.

Estimates show that in 2020, the total volume of mobile money transactions was over $99 billion (GH¢561 billion) far surpassing check and cash transactions which stood at $29 billion.

According to the Finance Minister, the total digital transactions for 2020, were projected to be over GH¢500 billion (about $81 billion) compared to GH¢78 billion ($12.5 billion) in 2016.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the NDC Member of Parliament for North Tongue Constituency, has been angered by the discovery and has  taken to Facebook to express his utmost disgust about the GHc242 million of the E-Levy.

On Thursday, December 2, he wrote “It does appear our agitations against the E-Levy is going to really affect some shadowy business interests if we succeed in having it scrapped or substantially reduced.

“Appendix 4B at page 242 of the 2022 budget reveals that a colossal GHS241,933,000 has already been set aside to pay for so-called e-Transaction Levy Services.

“We shall be demanding full disclosure in Parliament on this apparent sweetheart deal.

Taxing the poor to make the rich richer. This is most unconscionable!

On Friday, December 3 the MP fired another salvo saying “the more I dig into the sleazy allocation of GHS241,933,000 in the 2022 killer budget to pay for an amorphous e-Transaction Levy Services, the more I am convinced we must all entrench our absolute and unconditional opposition to the E-Levy”.

The Bank of Ghana has adequate capacity to track all e-Transactions in Ghana. They told us E-Levy was for grand national transformation, now we know it’s for a grand heist by family and friends.

Meanwhile, the former Member of Parliament (MP) for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, has criticized the Minority Leader in Parliament Haruna Iddrisu for the position he has taken on the E-levy proposal in the 2022 budget statement.

Ras Mukara who is also a former Chief Executive Officer for the National Youth Authority said that Mr. Iddrisu’s posture is the kind of shifty attitudes and “dangerous flip flopping that make the public feel NDC and NPP are the same.”

His comments come after Mr. Iddrisu who is also MP for Tamale South had said the Minority would accept the e-levy if it is reduced to 1% from 1.75% proposed in the budget statement, a position that is contrary to the earlier decision of the Minority to reject the proposal entirely.

“A week ago, we said no, we won’t accept e-levy but having listened to officials in government, including the Minister of Finance, I am convinced to accept a departure from my original no to accepting a one percent e-levy,” Mr. Iddrisu said at the 10th-anniversary launch of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications in Accra on Thursday, December 2, 2021.

“We are not against it, but we want it fixed at one percent. We fear for double taxation because we already have the Communication Services Tax,” he said.

But reacting to his comments in a post on Facebook, Ras Mubarak said “He’s completely lost the plot. It is no longer the views of experts like Kwame Pianim, Terkper, Ato Forson, Nii Moi Thompson, & others that matter but that of the Finance Minister who’s run the economy to the ground. What a joke. What have they done with taxes collected already?

“In case the Minority Leader hasn’t been reading the Auditor General’s report, over 1.2billion cedis disappeared into thin air due to procurement irregularities and no one has been held responsible.

There’s wanton dissipation of public funds and you want them to take more from the people albeit 1% and waste it as we’ve seen in 5 years? This is nothing short of a betrayal of the people’s cause.

“It’s the sort of shifty attitude and dangerous flip flopping that make the public feel NDC and NPP are the same.”

Source : theherald.com

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