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Senate investigates LTA’s US$200m waiver

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The Liberian Senate has begun investigating the Liberia Telecommunication Authority or LTA for willfully waiving US$200 million to GSM service providers here. The senate through its Committee on Telecommunication submitted a report to plenary, raising concern about the statutory authority of the LTA to waive fines imposed on service providers for alleged violations of regulation policy.

Grand Kru County Senator Albert Chie claims LTA woefully waived fines valued US$200 million.  The committee, headed by Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, said in the report read and endorsed by plenary Tuesday that the act of the LTA officials needs more clarity.

But the LTA argues that it is difficult to collect imposed fines in accordance with regulations because the government has not met up with its obligations to the GSM companies. Accordingly, the committee recommends that LTA collaborates with the Committee on Ways, Means and Finance to investigate the financial reports of the entity, and study the request for equipment and international due payment for budgetary adjustment.

The expected report should provide justification that the equipment will increase efficiency and effectiveness in the regulatory process as well as increase revenue for the country. It also recommends that a joint committee of the LTA and the Ways, Means, and Finance be mandated to meet with the Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority and the Ministry of Finance to confirm whether authority was given to the LTA to negotiate fines.

According to the report, LTA should revisit the policy of fines payment and include a clause for adjustment as it relates to the challenges until government meets its obligations. During the hearing, the LTA expressed that it is faced with several challenges, including SIM Card registration.

It further complained of lack of citizens’ ID cards to track subscribers by identity, including passports and work ID cards, which is making it very difficult to have an efficient and effective process as well as lack of equipment to track the entire process as it is done in many countries and bad roads or no accessibility at all to many places with network where SIM cards are registered or exist.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor -Editing by Jonathan Browne

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