By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, January 28, 2016
New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Obuasi West, Kwaku Kwarteng, has raised an alarm over what he calls ‘criminal’ payments being authorised by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government in the telecom sector.
According to the MP, the ‘criminal’ double payments are being made to two firms - Subah Info Solutions and Afriwave Telecoms Ghana Ltd - for monitoring incoming international telephone traffic of telecommunication firms.
A letter addressed to the Minister of Communications and copied to the President, Minister for Finance, Attorney General, Director General, National Communications Authority (NCA), Subah Info Solutions Ltd and Afriwave Telecoms Ghana Ltd, claimed the two companies are doing the same work.
Mr Kwaku Kwarteng also said the Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, is suspected to have personal interest in Afriwave and that the government’s action was plundering the already scarce resources of the country.
The minister has however, denied any personal interest in a statement issued last night and signed by Issah Yahaya, Chief Director of the communications ministry.
The ministry also denied that no money had been paid to Afriwave.
Mr Kwarteng quoted Communications Service Tax (Amendment) Act of 2013 which states that “The Minister (for Finance) in collaboration with the minister responsible for communications, shall ensure that a common platform is used for the purpose of monitoring revenues under this Act as well as revenues accruing from levies under the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Act 2009, (Act 786),” as the basis for raising the alarm.
He said “for the avoidance of doubt, the levies under the Electronic Communications (Amendment) Act 2009 being referred to are the levies on incoming international telephone traffic.”
“In accordance with this law, government, of which you (Minister for Communications) are a cabinet member, has signed a contract with a private company, Subah Info Solutions, to monitor both the communications service tax and the levies on incoming international telephone traffic. Parliament has been informed that the contract ends in May 2016. On the basis of this contract, government, through the Ghana Revenue Authority, is paying money to Subah Info Solutions.”
The MP said, “In spite of this, you have (through the National Communications Authority) directed network providers to allow another private company, Afriwave Telecom Ltd, access to their facilities for Afriwave to do the same monitoring that Subah Info Solutions is already doing.
“Right now, both Subah and Afriwave have their devices inserted into the billing nodes of network providers, with Afriwave claiming they have also been authorised to do the same revenue monitoring.
“It is obvious that the motive for this wasteful duplication is for Afriwave, a company in which you are suspected to have personal interest, to receive already scarce public funds. And this is coming at a time when national finances are in considerable distress.”
The MP underscored,“I wish to prompt you that this wasteful and deliberate duplication is criminal. Indeed, any officer of the ministry of communications or National Communications Authority or any government official whose action or inaction enables such duplication of payment is criminally causing financial loss to the state.”
He urged the NCA to withdraw the directive to network providers regarding Afriwave “for your own sake and for the sake of the public purse.”