Telcos not colluding on tariff increment – Ken Ashigbey

Business News of Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Source: citinewsroom.com

2018-10-23

CEO of the Chamber of Telecommunications, Ken Ashigbey

The CEO of the Chamber of Telecommunications, Ken Ashigbey, has refuted suggestions that telecommunication companies have been colluding ahead of the expected increase in service tariffs after the recalibration of the Value Added Tax (VAT).

Speaking on Citi TV’s Point of View, he defended the integrity of the telcos saying the competition amongst the chamber’s members “is as intense as anything.”

The telcos primed to increase the tariffs are Airtel-Tigo, MTN and Vodafone. This was in response to an assertion on the show by the Centre Coordinator of CUTS Ghana, Appiah Kusi Adomako, that the telcos were engaging in a collusive behaviour.

Mr. Adomako said the telcos’ move to increase their tariffs on November 1, 2018 is “collusive behaviour and that it is anti-competitive and in countries where we have competition law and anti-trust law, those players can be brought to justice.”

In response, Mr. Ashigbe said the competition was the bread and butter of the telecom industry.

“Our business thrives on competition. If there is any industry in this county where competition has driven prices down, it is the telco industry… The only basis of competition is on price,” he said.

Though he rubbished the collusion claims, he admitted that the telcos valued some degree of cooperation.

“The principle on which the chamber works is cooperation because we cooperate on things that affect all of us,” the chamber CEO explained.

He insisted that the price build up of all the individual telcos “are completely different” and that much more than taxes influenced prices.

“For us as a chamber, we don’t play with prices because the prices are issues the individual members handle. Taxes will be just one element. There are different elements within that whole scope that members themselves will play with,” Mr. Ashigbey said.

The Chamber of Telecommunications is however open to further discussions with the government over the imposition of taxes on the operations of its members.

Possible negotiations

Mr. Ashigbey told Citi Business News earlier that “the government has asked us to send in our tax proposals so that is where we are going to engage.”

But he was doubtful any difference would be arrived at.

“I am not too sure how we would be able to possibly change this because this is law that has been passed. Our conversation going forward is to be able to support government; when the government says that it is going to push for all government payments to be digital.”

Concern from gov’t

The Deputy Minister of Communication, George Andah, said reasons given by the Chamber of Telecommunication for the increment were problematic.

Speaking on the Big Issue over the weekend he said: “Telcos are not regulated as far as their pricing is concerned. However, if the Telecom Chamber is saying that as a result of a change in the tax regime, they have had to increase their price then I have an interest to understand how the change in tax regime is influencing their prices.”

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