General News of Wednesday, 3 January 2018
A private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu has asked the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) to justify what it intends to use monies collected from the payment of TV licenses for.
He said until that is done, the state broadcaster should not expect people to willingly make payments when they do not know what their monies will be used for.
“GBC should come up with a strategic plan. This tax they want to collect, what are they going to use it for,” he queried.
He added, “it is not sufficient to say ‘we will buy better equipment, we will improve content…no, no, no that is not how we spend tax money.”
The Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) in February 2017 began collecting TV license fees after it suspended the exercise for almost two decades.
But since it started the recollection, only a few people have paid the fees as stipulated by law.
In recent days, the state broadcaster has come under intense pressure to justify the law that requires all owners and retailers of television sets to pay the annual fee after the Chief Justice announced the setting up of a special court to prosecute those who default.
The many who have refused to pay the money believe the money will be used to finance the state broadcaster, the channel they do not watch.
The courts, located in all 10 regions across the country are to begin sitting from January 4, 2018 until otherwise directed.
Mr Kpebu said like the Finance Minister, GBC must defend the reason it is collecting the fees.
“There are underlining items…‘we will build a road from Accra to Cape Coast and then there is a cost so that citizens can know and see [what their monies are being used for].”
Mr Kpebu intends to collect signatures to petition the president for a suspension of the fees.
The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) on the other hand, believes a lot more education on the fees will be more useful than the setting up of a court.
Its president Andrew Danso Anninkora said the government and other stakeholders should find a better way of getting people to pay these fees without compulsion.
Speaking to Joy News’ Daniel Dadzie on Joy News Desk, Mr Anninkora appealed for further education on the issue.
“As an individual, I do not believe that taking people to court for the offenses they have committed normally encourages people
“People might be paying their TV license fees, but out of fear. We need to look at how to educate people if they have to do it, when to do it and to do it willingly,” he added.
For him, people will not default on the payment of the fees if they understand the purposes for which they are being collected.
“Why should people offend [the law] if they know what is right? Find a way of getting them to do the right thing. Let the court continue to make corrections in the system.
“But if you have too many courts and too many people being taken to court, then there is something wrong with your system,” he added.