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‘Political Pressure Stalled Libtelco Deal ‘- Muah Informs Senate Committee

‘Political Pressure Stalled Libtelco Deal ‘- Muah Informs Senate Committee

Monrovia - Mr. Sebastian Muah, Managing Director of the Liberia Telecommunication Corporation (Libtelco) has told members of the Senate Committee on Post and Telecommunication that political pressure led to the cancellation of the purchase deal between Novafone and Libtelco.

Mr. Muah made the disclosure Thursday when he appeared before the senate committee on Post and Telecommunication Committee chaired by Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County. His appearance is a result of a mandate given by the plenary of the Senate. The Senate reached a unanimous decision in early May to halt ongoing discussions by Libtelco to purchase cellular company, Novafone. The Senate’s decision, according to a motion; is aimed at giving the Committee on Post and Telecommunications, chaired by Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence (Liberty Party, Grand Bassa) the chance to gather the needed information relating to discussions surrounding the alleged US$10M purchase of Novafone by Libtelco. The probe came as a result of a communication written by Maryland County Senator, Dan Morias, who informed plenary that the Senate has been left out of the discussion surrounding the alleged purchase of the cellular company. Senator Morias’ communication stated: “Moreover, Liberia, being a Republic, practices free market economic principles. It beats our imagination that we will get involve; not in failed government institutions, but rather join the free market of purchasing failed institutions as Novafone GSM and thereby transferring its liability to the people of Liberia.” Muah Admits Mistake “Doing it again will be done differently because there is a dimension that when I look at the pure business side of it, there is this dimension side of it that I pretty much overlooked and that was my decision and leadership. No one asked me to do it. What we forgot in the process is that; we did not involve the legislature; even if law did not say so,” he said. During Thursday’s appearance Mr. Muah said, the mandate he took when he took over Libtelco remains viable and it will take a longer time. He added that he may not be at the entity up to that time. “My job is also a political appointment job, even though I don’t get confirm by the Senate, it is still a political job the board; and the President make decisions around it. Mr. Muah explained that his mandate has been to create value for Libtelco and the Liberian People and be able to make Libtelco competitive by generating income not as the same as Ghana and Ivory Coast got when they got their incumbent out of their hands for 70%; but to get resources that can come to the development of Liberia and we are still committed to that,” he said. FrontPageAfrica in April of 2016 reported from multiple sources that the President has rejected the deal in its entirety, declaring to aides that it is not in Liberia’s best interest and has killed plans by Libtelco to sanction a sale. One source stated that the President through a communication instructed Acting Finance Minister James Kollie to immediately terminate all negotiations regarding the Novafone deal. The source fell short of revealing what prompted the decision by the President but did say that the President instructed the Minister to revoke any instruction that has already been given or approval of the deal immediately. In early May the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA), in its vigorous drive to collect lawful taxes due the government and people of Liberia, Thursday sealed the doors of five major businesses after they failed to settle tax obligations since 2009. Businesses shutdown includes Novafone GSM Company in Congo Town, Shenny Trading Inc., on Broad Street, Continental General & Life Insurance, Medicare Insurance Corporation, and Liberty Investment (producers of AquaLife Water), all in Monrovia. Court and LRA officials delivered closure orders and requested employees out of the premises before sealing the doors of each of the businesses. The five companies owed a total of US$1.36 million and a little over LD$30 million, including penalties and interest for the last six years.

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