MTN: Planned investments in Ghana still intact
The MTN Group has said it remains confident in the Ghanaian economy and its future prospects and therefore maintains its planned investment and developmental initiatives in the country over the medium-term to drive digital and financial inclusion.
This comes on the back of the announcement that the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has completely scrapped the over GHS8.2 billion back tax it slapped on MTN Ghana on the basis of a supposed assessment by a third-party entity called Safaritech Ghana Limited.
Safaritech was said to have applied some unique auditing methodology and allegedly found that MTN Ghana hid 30% of revenue from government between 2014 and 2018.
GRA went ahead and served MTN notice of the assessment, in spite of the fact that a reputable international auditing firm, KPMG independently examined the work of Safaritech and found their conclusions to be untenable.
MTN therefore disputed the assessment and went into a 21-day talks with GRA, at the end of which GRA has fully withdrawn the back tax.
MTN has invested over a billion dollars in Ghana since coming into the country, is responsible for over 1.5 million jobs Ghana directly and indirectly. Almost 140,000 Ghanaian own shares in MTN, and practically the entire fintech industry in Ghana hinges on MTN. Again, MTN is by far the biggest and most decorated taxpayer in Ghana, and is behind the biggest corporate social investment projects in the country.
Industry watchers were therefore concerned that the tax assessment threatened to cause MTN to pack out of Ghana like a number of South African firms are doing, with its attendant collapse of the entire ecosystem that pivots around MTN.
Indeed, news of the back tax demand on MTN caused its share value to dip on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and got shareholders worried, giving indication that such government policies are a threat to investment.
The South African government, at some point, voiced out on the matter, calling for calm and collaboration to resolve the matter, while indicating that it had reports from South African businesses in Ghana that tax regulations are applied in a discriminatory manner towards them.
But in spite of the failed attempt to scoop GHS8.2 billion out of MTN on the basis of the work of a shady organization, MTN has reassured Ghanaians that it remains committed to the country’s development and its investments plans are still intact.
It also assured shareholders at the group level and in Ghana of its “commitment to the highest standards of tax compliance and responsible corporate citizenship.”
The African telecoms giant also thanked “all stakeholders involved for the support and collaboration to arrive at this amicable and mutually satisfactory full withdrawal of the Assessment.”
Meanwhile, it still remains that one of MTN Ghana’s planned investments in Ghana was to roll out 5G network in 2022, but it was denied the license to do so due to its significant market power (SMP) status.