The Ghana Chamber of Commerce has urged the Government to take a critical look at taxation of the telecommunication sector by specifically reviewing the mobile sector taxes to enhance efficiency and affordability.
“Government need to critically look at mobile sector specific taxes, which need to be removed if possible, to enhance efficiency such that the gains could be passed into rolling out networks in rural communities to help affordability as well,” Mr Derek Laryea, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce (GCC), said on Monday.
Speaking to the GNA on the side-lines of the Sixth Edition of the Ghana Economic Forum in Accra, Mr Laryea said taxes were good but data from 2015 GSM and Deloit Research showed that telecom was being taxed in the same bracket as alcohol and tobacco.
“In Ghana telecoms are taxed in the same vain as alcohol and tobacco, which are luxury goods and are “sin taxes” aimed at discouraging people from using them.
Mr Laryea, who doubles as the Head of Research and Communication at the GCC, said phones were no longer luxury goods but are necessities that were helping people and boosting productivity.
He said the mobile industry could be incentivised through the removal of taxes as a way of government’s support so they could expand their infrastructure to places that were not covered.
Meanwhile, during a plenary discussion on “Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” Mr Laryea said Telcos needed to support the upcoming tech start-ups much more than they were doing through forging stronger partnerships and linkages to come out with innovative solutions to help push the economy.
He said the very innovative young people needed to be pushed by mobile operators to come out with more local ideas and solutions to solve local problem.
“It is important to provide young innovators with infrastructure and data for them to be able to develop relevant applications to help grow a vibrant start-up space on the back of the telecom industry,” Mr Laryea said.
He said government should, therefore, continue to stimulate dialogue to provide a platform for critical thinking about the importance of each business idea.
“There is a room for more synergies and greater conversations between mobile services providers and the younger folks to inure support for more innovation,” he noted.
Ms Patricia Appiagyei, the Deputy Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said Ghanaians needed to interrogate their attitudes towards life to improve their living standards and create the right innovative ideas.
She said the school curriculum must change to make students more aware of their environment and interrogate why things happened the way they do.
Ms Appiagyei said the Government, as an enabler, was determined to come out with the right policies and legal framework to protect and help people promote their innovative ideas.
She noted that at the moment the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy is being developed to guide the country in its science and innovation agenda.
Mr Yoofi Grant, the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, said young people must be given the needed exposure to exhibit their innovation to earn a living.
He said entrepreneurs must be protected and provided with incentives to thrive in the ever changing market economy.
“It is said that the services sector has outperformed many other sectors of the economy over the past half-decade. This growth has been driven by the telecommunications/ICT, banking, tourism and hospitality sub-sectors,” he said.
The two-day event is on the theme: “Building a Ghanaian Owned Economy, 60 Years after Independence” and brought together captains of industries and entrepreneurs to brainstorm on the country’s economic challenges and chart the way forward.
The Business and Financial Times newspaper is organising the Forum with Barclays Bank being the lead sponsor.
Among the issues being discussed are: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Investment in Ghana; the Energy, Economy, Agriculture and Insurance sectors and how Ghanaian businesses could take advantage to benefit from the economy.