South African govt urges MTN to find ‘amicable solution’ to Ghana tax woes


The operator disputes the legitimacy of the $773 million tax bill forced upon it by the Ghana Revenue Authority

At the start of this year, the Ghanaian tax regulator announced that it was issuing MTN Ghana a bill of roughly $773 million, including penalties and interest, claiming the operator had underpaid its taxes for multiple years the previous decade.

The announcement came following the Ghana Revenue Authority’s audit of the operator’s finances for the years 2014–2018, with the regulator finding that MTN had under-declared its revenue by around 30% during this period.

“The base component of the assessment (that is, excluding penalties and interest), on MTN Ghana’s analysis, infers that MTN Ghana under-declared its revenue by approximately 30% over the audit period,” explained the regulator in a statement.

MTN “strongly disputes” these findings, saying they are inaccurate and made use of a flawed methodology.

“It is important to also emphasise that we believe MTN Ghana has paid its due taxes during this period under assessment,” MTN’s CEO Ralph Mupita told analysts at a meeting earlier this month.

Legal proceedings are ongoing to resolve the situation.

This week, however, the South African government has begun to weigh in on the dispute, urging the two parties to find an ‘amicable solution’ to the conflict.

The international relations and cooperation minister Dr Naledi Pandor called for fairness in resolving the legal battle, arguing that greater cooperation was needed between the two countries, especially in the telecommunications sector.

“Our common destiny, as outlined in the Agenda 2063 aspirations, depend on win-win intra-African collaboration and cooperation,” she said.

Agenda 2063 is a set of initiatives currently under implementation by the African Union, aimed at improving the continent’s economy and promoting closer collaboration between nations. The plan includes numerous flagship projects, ranging from the establishment of a high-speed continental rail network to the creation of a Great African Museum.

Crucially, many of these projects are directly tied to the telecoms industry, such as the creation of a pan-African digital data network, collaboration on cybersecurity, and the establishment of an open, digital Pan-African University.

In related news, it should also be noted that Ghana is currently experiencing a major economic crisis, with inflation rising above 50% and the government seeking financial aid from the International Monetary Fund. If ever there was a time when the government could do with a financial windfall, this is undeniably it.

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