Monrovia – A member of the House of Representative has described as “useless and baseless” the decision by majority of his colleagues to invite officials of the Liberia Revenue Authority, the Liberia Telecommunication Authority and LoneStarCell/MTN to provide clarity on the termination of the three-day ‘free’ call promotion by the company.
Report by Henry Karmo – [email protected]
LRA, LTA and LoneStarCell/MTN should have appeared, Thursday, January 19 before plenary of the House of Representative but the mobile phone Company failed to appear and requested a reschedule of its appearance for next Tuesday, January 21, 2016.
Rep. Moses Kollie, former chairman on the House of Representatives’ committee on ways, means, Finance and development planning in an interview with FrontPage said he was taking aback by his colleagues’ decision.
Rep. Kollie said: “When I got the news I was taking a back because it is somehow disappointing because as former chairman on ways, means, finance and development planning I previously objected to the tax increment. We told our colleagues that it would have been additional burden on the people base on our professional background they objected to it.”
“I and others who opposed we were defeated by majority of our colleagues who said it had no additional burden on the Liberia people to come with an argument that the company misled them has no basis because we as lawmakers have the responsibility to make decision for the people we represent.”
rEP. Kollie was appointed by former Speaker Alex Tyler to chair the influential committee but was later replaced by Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay following the ousting of Representative Alex Tyler.
Meanwhile, Kolllie is expressing discontent about the House’s latest move following the US$0.1 tariff increment on all voice calls in the country.
He described as a “sad mistake and an embarrassment that people who should be advising policy makers when it comes to decision making allow them self to be wrongly advised”.
“Because of the marriage between the Executive and the Legislature it has brought bad result the country has begun to experience,” explains the Chairman of the opposition Liberia People Democratic Party.
The LPDP founding member also a Lofa County lawmaker has cautioned residents of constituencies of lawmakers who voted for taxes to be increase on domestic calls to question them about their decision.
“During campaign their constituents should ask them; Urey should not be blame for this, Urey coming to committee hearing and saying it would not affect three days should not be a reason for the committee to accept it that was very unprofessional they should have been strong enough to read in between,” he added.
“It is needleless and baseless for MTN, Urey to come and answer questions .He has no reason answering question from lawmakers the company was expressing it opinion that is where the decision makers should have made the best judgment for people should be blaming Urey is a sad mistake,” he said.
LTA, LRA Appear Before Lawmakers
Making remarks at the hearing, LRA commissioner General Alfreda Tamba failed to tell lawmakers whether the one cent added on domestic voice call would be pay by the consumers or the service providers.
“About your concern Honorable members I cannot provide any indication that Lone Star would pay the one cent or it would pass onto the consumers that burden it is purely a business decision and I expect that LoneStar by that text message made a business decision and come Tuesday LoneStar will answer question appropriately,” she said.
For her part, Angelique Weeks chair of the Board of Commissioners of LTA said – “Because of the nature of the subject the LTA regulate they consider a Laissez Faire approach (a system that allows businesses to operate with very little interference from the government) meaning let the market decide certain things”.
In response to concerns about text messages sent to consumers, she responded:
“We were provided a signed copy of that law by the ministry of Finance and Development Planning on January 9th and a letter went out to the operator on the 12 of January informing them that the Ministry of Finance had instructed us to enforce the new law and we will do that by doing bailing internally and invoicing externally and eventually monitoring.”
“How do we know how much revenue government will get the call detail record will tell us how many minutes was use. So what we are doing as regulator is implementing the law as requested by the Finance Ministry.
There is certain area that either determines our intervention but as things stand right now it is left with each operator to determine the value added services that they provide to their customers whether for a charge.”
“When your credit is loaded it tells you how much you have but it doesn’t say how many minutes you have on your credit after making a call. Going forward LoneStar will be required to file its tariff to the LTA Regarding the 0.01.”