The Parliament of Ghana has approved Tax Waiver amounting to the Ghana Cedis equivalent of Four Million, Nine Hundred and Seven Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty-Five South African Rands (ZAR 4,907,555.00) for the Ghana Space Scientific and Technology Institute (GSSTI) of the Ghana Atomic Agency Commission (GAEC).
The waiver is on equipment, tools and hardware is in respect of the Ghana Radio Astronomy Project and Collation of the Satellite Earth Observation Ground Receiving Station at Kuntanase situated in the Greater Accra Region.
According to the Finance Committee of Parliament, the Ghana Revenue Authority has assessed the applicable taxes, duties and levies whose exemptions were requested by the Finance Ministry covering GETFund Levy, Import NHIL, EXIM Levy and Special Import Levy among others, imperative to sustain attractiveness of the project and make sure government did not suffer undue costs.
Dr. Mark Assibey-Yeboah, Chairman of the Finance Committee presenting the Committee’s report on the floor of Parliament on Monday indicated that Ghana and South Africa in 2013 signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the renovation of a redundant 32m-diameter telecommunications antennae, the Ghana Radio Astronomy Project at Kuntunase, into radio telescope.
The radio telescope which is the biggest single dish radio telescope in Africa will become part of the Global Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) network of telescopes jointly undertaking scientific research and will also be used for Single Dish Astronomy network becoming both a research and training facility for students, scientists and engineers in Ghana and the sub-region.
According to the Committee, Ghana’s position on the globe as the country closest to the equator making its radio telescope the one with the widest view of the Milky Way galaxy, thereby attracting a lot of international interest, was one of the reasons it was chosen as a partner country.
It noted that the project when completed is expected to contribute significantly to the development of highly skilled human capital for sectors of the economy such as mechanical and structural software, electrical and electronic control and monitoring of various fields of advanced scientific and technological engineering.
Committee Chairman, Mark Assibey Yeaboah defended the waiver as necessary to ensure the viability of the project since the MOA puts the burden of taxes, duties and levies on the GSSTI and by extension the Government of Ghana arguing that it was imperative to sustain attractiveness of the project to financiers and investors to make sure government did not suffer additional costs.
He further stressed that the Committee thoroughly considered the request and found the approval to be necessary for the timely and smooth implementation of the project Committee hence the Committee’s recommendation to the House to adopt the report and approve by resolution in view of the immense anticipated benefits the country stands to gain from the implementation of the project,