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17.11.2007 Business & Finance

Mobile Phone Access To Be Cheaper

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The government's decision to waive taxes on mobile phones would make access to mobile phones cheaper for the ordinary Ghanaian, Mr Kwabena Adjei-Mensah, Director of Government Budget, said yesterday.
He said: 'The announcement of the waiver of the import duty on mobile phones in the 2008 Budget Statement would pave the way for increased cheap importation of the product.'
Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu Minister for Finance and Economic Planning announced yesterday that government had decided to abolish import duty and import VAT on all mobile phones imported into the country and introduce a more effective means of taxing mobile phone usage.
'Consequently government proposes to impose a specific excise duty per minute of air time use,' he said.
Addressing Regional Budget Officers and Regional and District Information Officers at a two-day workshop on the 2008 budget statement in Accra, Mr Adjei-Mensah said the imposition of the tax would be borne by the service providers and not the consumer.
He said the introduction of the tax had become necessary because many people now easily smuggled mobile phones into the country, and a great proportion of them entered the country undeclared and therefore were untaxed.
Quoting what the Minister read in the budget statement, Mr Adjei-Mensah said: 'Import duties and import VAT on such undeclared phones are lost to the state. The nation is, thus, not deriving maximum revenue from the expected taxes on mobile phone imports.' He said such a tax would ensure an effective means of taxing mobile phone usage.
Asked whether the burden of tax would not be shifted to the consumer, Mr Adjei-Mensah said it was important that people focused rather on the waiver because the aim was not to introduce any burden on anyone.
A cross-section of people the Ghana News Agency spoke to, have expressed worry asking, 'What will be the use of a cheap mobile phone when we can't afford airtime (buying of call credit)?'      

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