Press zooms in on $200m investment in rural telephony, digital inclusion projects, others

APA – Accra (Ghana)

The $200 million invested by the government to enable the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to accomplish its rural telephony and digital inclusion projects across the country is one of the leading stories in the Ghanaian press on Thursday.

The Ghanaian Times reports that an amount of 200 million dollars has been invested by the government to enable the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to accomplish its rural telephony and digital inclusion projects across the country.

The project, which forms part of the government’s “Ghana Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion Project” (GRT and DIP), seeks to facilitate the provision of universal access to all persons through the use of affordable information and communications technology for socioeconomic development.

Mr Prince Ofosu Sefah, Administrator of GIFEC, lauded government’s support in enabling GIFEC to receive accelerated growth through funding of its telecommunication activities in both the rural and urban centres of Ghana.

The Administrator made these known to the Ghanaian Times in an interview during an exercise to acquire some sites in the Eastern Region as part of the construction of Mobile Network Sites in about 300 communities across the country, beginning with 82 Sites over the next two weeks.

Mr Sefah reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring 95 per cent mobile network coverage by December 2023, through the establishment of 2,016 Rural Sites under the GRT and DIP.

This, he said, would help in boosting the performance of Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) and budding businesses in rural areas.

Mr Sefah underscored the importance of mobile network connectivity and its role in economic development, stating that “it enhances trade and commerce for revenue generation to its subscribers and also promotes education.”

“GIFEC is still counting on government to continue this unprecedented investment in communities because people really need access to network and now getting network access is almost like the basic necessities of life.”

As part of the exercise, the Administrator, along with a Support Team visited some selected communities including Onyemso, Adunkwaa and Osubeng in the Eastern Region last week.

The newspaper says that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) will from October this year issue Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) electronically to tax payers, Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has announced.

A Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) is documentary evidence issued to confirm that the taxpayer is up to date with any tax payments and has met all applicable tax obligations at the date of issue.

The GRA may also issue a TCC to a customer who has tax arrears where the arrears are covered by a satisfactory installment arrangement.

According to the Vice President, the move was to reduce the discretionary use of powers and its attendant corruption by public officials, while promoting voluntary compliance in a friendly taxpaying environment.

He explained that electronic issuance of the certificate would make fake tax clearance certificate a thing of the past, eliminate delays and ensure enhanced transparency through the automatic verification and electronic issuance of the certificate to the tax payer and requesting institution.

He was speaking in Accra yesterday at the 10th edition of the annual international tax conference.

The three-day conference, organised by the Chartered Institute of Taxation, Ghana (CITG) was on the theme “Improving domestic tax revenue mobilisation: A consultative and inclusive approach.”

Dr Bawumia said the electronic issuance of certificate would complement the online filing of taxes to enable the country raise the needed revenue.

From next year, he stated that, many public services would require tax clearance certificate before service was rendered as part of efforts to promote tax compliance and enhance domestic revenue mobilisation.

The Graphic reports that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, Sulemanu Koney, has called on the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and other relevant institutions to ensure that royalties and other funds meant for the direct benefit and development of mining communities are paid on a regular basis into the Minerals Development Fund (MDF).

Describing the situation where the release of the funds delay as “not healthy”, he noted that his checks revealed that for the whole of this year, funds had not been paid into the MDF, as required.

He stressed that the GRA, the Ministry of Finance and the Minerals Income Investment Fund (MIIF) office should make sure that the funds were immediately released to the MDF for the accelerated development of the beneficiary communities.

“After close of work or business, it is expected that funds will be paid into the MDF immediately or the next day, but, unfortunately, it is not happening and it is a major issue which calls for concern, especially for those of us who have the mining communities at heart and advocated the establishment of the MDF," Mr Koney said.

He made the call at a development partnership symposium in Accra yesterday.

The symposium was aimed at exploring partnership opportunities for implementing the 10-year Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP) of the AngloGold Ashanti Obuasi Mine.

A wide range of stakeholders, including bilateral agencies, the private sector, foundations and development non-governmental organisations, attended the event.

Explaining the purpose for the establishment of the MDF, Mr Koney said it was a public fund set up by Act 912 of Parliament in 2016.

The source of the fund is principally 20 per cent of mineral royalties that are received by the GRA on behalf of the Republic.

The newspaper says that the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has said one of the key hindrances to fulfilling God’s purpose on earth is corruption.

He said corruption inhibited economic growth and affected business operations, employment and investments.

"It also reduces tax revenue and the effectiveness of various financial assistance programmes. The wider society is influenced by a high degree of corruption, thereby lowering trust in the rule of law, governance and consequently the quality of life," he added.

The Vice-President was speaking at the 59th annual session of the Ghana Baptist Convention in Ejura in the Ashanti Region.

The session was on the theme: "Fulfilling God’s purpose, growing God’s church".

Dr Bawumia said since independence, governments had, by and large, not focused on building systems and institutions that underpinned economic activities in a modern economy.

"The systems that will reduce bribery and corruption, make the delivery of public services efficient, enhance domestic revenue mobilisation and make life generally easier for the people.

"So the whole issue of corruption is one that is enveloped with sin. We live in a society where this phenomenon is what we need to tackle.

"Corruption thrives in the very nature of the society that we have. It thrives in any society that is full of darkness, so much so that when there is darkness, so much is hidden and you cannot tell who is who; people's identity is hidden," he added.


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