Contrary to an initial plan by the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to roll out the controversial electronic transfer levy (e-levy) in three phases, it is now taking steps to implement all the phases in one go next month.
It would be recalled that GRA issued guidelines for the e-levy implementation in three phases, beginning from March ending through April to May.
But because the passage of the Bill into law faced some delays, the deadline for the implementation of phase one was missed. Subsequently, the Bill was passed under very controversial circumstance, which is now a subject of a legal suit at the Supreme Court.
In spite of the legal suit, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo went ahead and assented the passed Bill into law, following which GRA and the industry stakeholders began a technical implementation on Friday, April 8, 2022 at 9am.
The technical implementation means all the stakeholders have now been given the APIs of the Common Platform built by the GRA to manage the e-levy rollout and other tax regimes in the country going forward.
GRA has therefore scrapped the initial guidelines that proposed a three-phased implementation and is now pushing all the stakeholders – telcos, fintechs, banks and others to ensure full implementation by May this year.
The three initial phases were 1. Implementation of e-levy per wallet/account within the same charging entity – which was to be rolled out in March; 2. Implementation of e-levy per person within the same charging entity, and 3. Implementation of e-levy per person across all charging entities – both of which were slated fro April 1, 2022.
But as things stand now, all three phases are expected to go live in May.
Robust Common Platform
According to the sources, GRA has done a great job in building a very robust common platform that assures players of a smooth, seamless and problem-free implementation of the e-levy.
In fact truth be told – the GRA common platform has taken care of practically all the technical issues required for a smooth implementation of e-levy so we do not expect any challenges at all come May, when we go live with it,” the source said.
According to the source, the master stroke of the Common Platform is the Commissioner-General’s decision to make the Ghana Card number unique for every stakeholder – such that every person can be uniquely identified with their Ghana Card number in the records of every single institution.
This way it becomes very easy to know when a person transfers money to himself, whether from account to wallet or wallet to account, then than transaction can easily be exempted from e-levy,” the source said, adding that “if this strategy works it will be the master stroke that will change the face of digital finance in the country in so many ways.”
Meanwhile, ahead of the e-levy rollout, there have been reports of mobile money in Ghana taking a hard hit as some individuals are reported to be cashing out their moneys from the mobile money wallets. It is estimated that the sector has already lost some GHS10 billion in value since the e-levy Bill was passed into law.
GSMA has also warned that, per the experience of other jurisdictions in Africa, e-levy has a potential of derailing gains made by mobile money over the years, posing a threat to financial inclusion in particular, as many of the poor and unbanked, who find mobile money useful, as most likely to stop using the service just to avoid the tax.
Government is however confident that its investment into digitalising the economy and the exponential growth that has created in digital transaction, is enough to guarantee some US$1 billion revenue from e-levy, that will help the economy get back on track.
Some pressure groups have proposed that, now that it is clear that e-levy will be implemented, government should set up separate account specifically for e-levy, and establish a multi-stakeholder body to manage the application of moneys that accrue from the e-levy to ensure proper accountability.
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