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Unused mobile data should not expire and must roll over – Ursula to telcos

Unused mobile data should not expire and must roll over – Ursula to telcosThe Ministry of Communications wants mobile network operators (MNO) in Ghana to desist from allowing all unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers from expiring.

In a new directive issued by the Ministry to the network operators, it said, “all unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers do not expire and must be rolled over with the next recharge.”

The directive was contained in a letter dated October 9, 2019, signed by the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful and addressed to the Director-General of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Mr Joe Anokye with a copy to the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of MTN and Vodafone as well as the two Deputy Ministers of Communication, Mr George Nenyi Andah and Mr Vincent Sowah-Odotei.

The letter, a copy of which has been by Graphic Online states that the move was following a series of meetings held between the Ministry, NCA and the MNOs.

The letter explained that the directive was coming as a result of the increase in the Communication Service Tax (CST) from 6% to 9% and the subsequent decision by the MNOs to pass the entire burden of CST to subscribers contrary to a previous arrangement.

“We must emphasise that the fact that CST was increased from the existing rate of 6% to 9% effective 4th September 2019. The tax has been in existence since 2008 and was increased to provide revenue for cybersecurity initiatives to protect the digital infrastructure and policies being used by both the public and private sector.”

The letter stated that, “At the series of meetings held between the Ministry of Communications, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the NCA on 7th and 8th October, 2019, we were informed that prior to 4th September 2019, MNOs had not been passing on the CST to subscribers but had decided to take advantage of the 3% increase to pass on the entire tax to subscribers. This has effectively increased their profit margin at the expense of subscribers.”

It said all efforts to get them [MNOs) to revert to the September 2019 situation has failed as they “literally exact their pound of flesh from their consumers.”

The Ministry explained that to help minimise the negative impact of the current mode of deduction of the CST, it has therefore directed that “CST should be treated the same way VAT, NHIL, GETFund levy and all other taxes and levies imposed on entities doing business in Ghana are treated.”

It said the “extraordinary upfront deduction of CST and notification of same to subscribers must stop with immediate effect.”

“All unused data and voice bundles purchased by subscribers do not expire and must be rolled over with the next recharge.”

“MNOs will be subjected to strict compliance with existing Quality of Service (QoS) standard to ensure value for the subscribers’ money in accordance with their license obligations,” it added.

The letter indicated that the directives were to take immediate effect.

Story by Enoch Frimpong

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