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Confrontation is unhealthy for business

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The National Security Agency (NSA) an investigative arm of the state, is reportedly probing the Chief Executive Officer of Orange Liberia, Mamadou Coulibaly, for alleged involvement with protesters who recently erected roadblocks with burning tires in Monrovia, demanding cancelation of surcharge imposed on GSM companies by the Government of Liberia.

The suspicion by the government stems from earlier Writ of Prohibition filed before the Supreme Court of Liberia by Orange Liberia against the surcharge. The High Court however, denied the petition.

And so when an erratic pressure group here, Council of Patriots, mobilized youth into the street last week, burning tires and erecting roadblocks in demand of cancelation of the surcharge, government suspects that CEO Coulibaly, who had earlier gone to court against the levy, may be behind all this hence; Police called him for questioning and subsequently turned Coulibaly over to the NSA for further interrogation.

It is not only disappointing, but highly counterproductive for a business entity to be in confrontation with the government under which it operates. This is bad business practice. Rather than going to court on the matter, we think CEO Coulibaly should have sat with the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) the regulatory body, to discuss all outstanding issues.

In 2018, the LTA issued Order# 0016-02-25-19, imposing floor prices and surcharges on one-net voice calls and data. Before issuing the Order, the LTA got all stakeholders involved and their inputs were considered. If the GSM companies in this case, Orange Liberia, had reservations it should choose dialogue with the relevant government entities to reach common grounds for peaceful business environment.

Lest we be misconstrued here; the New Dawn holds no suspicion against CEO Coulibaly, neither does it support or defend ongoing interrogation by the government. But we urge both sides to quickly realize that a confrontational business environment poses threat to the economy, something that neither parties wants to see in Liberia, particularly Orange Liberia, as a foreign partner.

We can but only hope that the questioning would be concluded soon and suspicions cleared so that CEO Coulibaly would return to his business and carry on normal operations without having to constantly be on the watch for plain-clothe security coming to take him for interrogation.

The last thing that this country wants is a business environment that is clouded with mistrust and strain, because such atmosphere drives away the dollars the economy needs to thrive.

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