Dr Mark Yama Tampuri Jnr has called on Mobile Money and Digital Financial Services providers as a matter of duty of care and adhering to consumer protection standards to immediately dedicate hotlines and physical desks to address the many teething problems arising from the implementation of the Electronic Transfer Levy Act, 2022 (Act 1075) which took effect on Sunday, May 1, 2022.
This, the expert believes is needed to build and maintain high levels of trust in the products and services they offer as E-Levy implementation begins. The implementation of the new 1.5% value tax is on electronic transactions above 100 Ghana cedis. He again advised especially Mobile Money Service providers to move towards using purposely designed online APPs, and Whatsapp to receive complaints.
Many Ghanaians have taken to traditional and social media to pour out experiences of displeasure and disappointment they have arising from the implementation of the controversial Electronic Transfer Levy Act (E-Levy).
The International Finance and Economic Policy Expert speaking on the matter has alluded that the chaos being observed as a result of the implementation provides regrettably, evidence that firstly, assumptions that needed to have been ascertained and mitigated before public policies are implemented were not followed through and secondly the government needed to have built the technical systems to conform to the dictates of the E-Levy Act, before implementing it to operate within the remits and requirement of the law and to avert the problems being realised.
`…There are concerns about how this E-Levy has been implemented. Knowing the calibre of professionals at GRA especially, I will believe there would have been some understanding of the potential problems that could arise should the implementation be started on May 1, 2022, yet, unmitigated.… I see this as a classic example of a policy implementation failure. You see before you even get to implement a public policy, you may have a Theory of Change within which you will have the inputs, outputs to observe and outcomes to see designed in a way towards achieving the objectives of the policy or law. But more importantly, is the ability to identify assumptions within the policy, and here the assumptions are the risks, disturbances and constraints that add noise and inefficiencies which could derail the smooth implementation of the policy, in our case, the E-Levy. I am particularly worried because the E-levy will influence behaviours, such as the use of digital payments hence financial inclusion and tax avoidance potentially. And with these two subjects of financial inclusion and the need for the revenues important to the government, the E-levy implementation could have been handled better and with some stability. Implementing the E-Levy, without fully setting up the technical infrastructure meant that there will be some chaos.
He further said that the chaos being seen is not technical issues only but legal issues that need to be emphasized. “The Electronic Transfer Levy Act stipulated its applicability and exemptions. If the GRA (Ghana Revenue Authority), therefore, had not fully put the infrastructure up in a way to implement the E-Levy to conform to the E-Levy Act, which has resulted in the teething problems mobile money users are experiencing, then one may ask if this is an issue of infrastructure unreadiness only or the GRA are operating in a way that does not provide the standards to conform to the E-levy Act on day 1 of implementation, therefore resulting in E-levy being misapplied. For me, it would be an interesting legal perspective on why a state institution would implement the Act this way.
However, the expert advised service providers to use this opportunity to improve their ability to provide information, solution and tools on the problems that users are facing and address them. Dr Tampuri said that “service providers would also need to understand modern trends in customer service and move their customer service mediums to online and even social media. In this day and era, it is not smart for financial service players and banks especially to offer digital payments to users on one end, and on another, users would have to go to physical branches to resolve a problem. Customer needs are rapidly changing. To meet those needs, service providers need to make the customer experience the starting point for process design. Move your customer services to online mediums; WhatsApp, Twitter, designed customer service apps“ should be offered whiles being genuinely interested in addressing users’ needs“
Meanwhile, The President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akufu-Addo took to his Twitter handle on the first day of May 2022 to announce the commencement of the implementation of the E-Levy in a tweet “E-Levy starts today. #YourTaxesAtWork #BuildingGhanaTogether #ELevyForDevelopment“ which was met with very strong views against the tax.
On the other hand, the Former President of Ghana, John Dramani Mahama has publicly declared that should the NDC win power in 2025, the government will repeal the E-Levy Act. Addressing Ghanaians on the theme ‘Ghana at A Crossroads’, on Monday, May 2, 2022. Mahama said, “unfortunately in the face of this self-inflicted economic catastrophe, this government against all sound advise has decided to introduce the E-Levy that heaps more suffering on Ghanaians.”
“A new national democratic congress government, God willing, with the votes of the sovereign people of Ghana, in 2025 will repeal the E-Levy Act,”