Liberia: Government Must Unlock the LTA, Mobile Operators Horns – The Citizens Are Suffering

0

WHETHER it is the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) that is not forceful and up to the task or rather the Mobile Network Operators that are defying the government, it is the Liberian people that are feeling the pinch.

WITH THIS KIND of stalemate in the midst of an economy that barely provides a three-square meal for citizens, it is prudent that government moves swiftly in exerting itself to unlock the horns of the GSM Companies and the regulator – the LTA.

THE NEW PRICES introduced by the GSM Companies for voice and data are totally absurd and as the blame game goes on, Liberians are being compelled to squeeze water out of rock to simply communicate with families, friends, business partners.

COMMUNICATION – whether by internet or voice – is not a luxury. It is very essential to the daily livelihood and social wellbeing to all humans, especially in this age.

THE ISSUE between the GSM Companies and the government’s regulatory arm is simply a matter of policy. It all derived from the scraping off the 5% tax on GSM Companies to be replaced by surcharges which by the LTA Order would be additional charges placed on the existing floor price.

HOWEVER, what was not made clear by the LTA was that the surcharge was not intended to be additional charges on voice and data services, rather a remittance to be paid by the Mobile Network Operators from their preset prices.

AS CITIZENS OF a country grappling with a collapsing economy further hit by a global pandemic, we are already going through a lot of grief. We struggle for food, struggle for medical attention, we struggle for safe drinking water, electricity, transportation, etc., adding communication to our worries is like putting the last nail on the coffin. If the government would act, it must act now.

PRIOR TO THE implementation of the surcharges, the new floor price introduced enforced by the LTA in 2019 put US$1 for 45 minutes of on-net voice call, 15 minutes to other networks and 50 megabytes of data. Also, US$2 offered 2 gigabytes of data.

WITH THE implementation of the surcharge, US$1 now offers 15 minutes of on-net voice service, 5 minutes to other network and 15 megabytes of data while US$2 now gives 600 megabytes of data.

THE NEW PRICES introduced by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) introduced last week, according to them, was as a result of additional surcharge of US$0.008 for each minute of on-net voice and US$0.0065 for each megabyte of data in compliance with LTA order: 0016-02-25 issued on February 25, 2019.

BY THE LTA’S ARGUMENT, these surcharges were not intended to be additional charges, rather they are to be deducted from the existing prices and remitted to government.

The network operators have claimed that doing such would lead to them to bankruptcy as their revenue cannot afford to make such payments to government.

WE BELIEVE that the government’s decision is in good faith, intended to generate more revenue for development and support developmental projects but we also believe that the government has a responsibility to ensure a viable environment for businesses.

WE ALSO ADMONISH GSM Companies in the country not to take advantage of the government and Liberian people. We see their utter refusal to adhere to the LTA’s order as deliberate disrespect to constituted authority, a deliberate sabotage and an attempt to put the people against the government.

ROLLING OUT 300% price increment on voice service and 100% percent incent on data service without the acquiescence of the LTA is totally out of order. Refusing to revert to status quo is even worse.

AS CITIZENS OF a country grappling with a collapsing economy further hit by a global pandemic, we are already going through a lot of grief. We struggle for food, struggle for medical attention, we struggle for safe drinking water, electricity, transportation, etc., adding communication to our worries is like putting the last nail on the coffin. If the government would act, it must act now.

Comments
Loading...