KNOW HOW TO TREAT CUSTOMERS … Ursula warns telcos
By Maxwell Obiri-Yeboah
The Ministry of Communication has cautioned all telecommunication companies (telcos) in the country to be careful with how they treat customers if they wish to stay and do business.
The Ministry issued a statement last week, directing all telcos to stop the upfront deduction of new taxes imposed by the government, when customers buy credit.
Speaking at a news conference in Accra yesterday, the sector Minister, Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful, said initially, the telcos absorbed the six percent Communication Service Tax (CST) charged by the government.
But, after the Ministry announced the 3 percent increment, they (the telcos) have decided to transfer the entire nine percent onto customers, to pay for it upfront, on all data and credit recharges they do instantly.
According to her, none of the taxes that government charges them (telcos) are taken upfront, and that if they wish to do business in the country, then they should find a way, like they have always done, and avoid deducting them (taxes) from the customer upfront.
Also, they (telcos) should do well to roll over the data and voice calls purchased when the customer is not able to use it all without any timeline attached to it.
Mrs Ekuful called on all customers of all the telecom companies to move to designated centres, starting from January 2020 to June 2020, to update their personal data to be configured into their systems.
According to the minister, the directive has been endorsed by Cabinet, and that the telephone numbers, digital addresses of individuals, details from all valid identity cards would be taken and placed in a database of the various telecommunication companies, once again.
It is going to be done because most of the databases are not updated and linked. This will help to authenticate all mobile phones, numbers and help detect fraudulent acts.
It would also help the security agencies in performing their functions in the country, adding that, “If we had this system, the Takoradi kidnappers would have been identified,” and their actions would be noticed for them to be apprehended with ease.
On the same day, January 1, 2020, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has decided to begin what it calls ECOWAS roaming initiative.
“By this, the Ministry wishes to inform the nation that it is a regulation binding all telcos in the country for them to “reduce all roaming rates within the ECOWAS sub region to promote cross border investments and encourage competition among operators to reduce call charges.”
In the end, the Ministry was optimistic that this initiative would help governments get more revenue, as well as serve as a path for the African Continental Free Trade to thrive.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC), as well as journalists and the Media Foundation for West Africa, have been criticising the government for closing down some radio stations.
Speaking on the matter, the Minister explained that a team of inspectors embarked on this exercise in 2018 and continued this year, 2019.
They discovered that as many as 144 radio stations had issues with their licenses and registration nationwide.
After scrutinising them, they decided to close 57 of those digital stations. Currently, about 30 of such stations have started doing what is expected of them to come back on air, and they would soon complete the process.
It is well within the mandate of the Ministry “to determine whether they (the media houses) would give you the same frequency modulation or a different one to operate in the digital space,” she said.
She advised all parents to endeavour to register their teenage girls to apply for an upcoming ‘Ms Geek’, a technology competition that the Ministry has started to promote coding at the basic education level in the country.