President Gerorge Manneh Weah has taken siege of surcharge disagreement between the Liberia Telecommunication Authority and GSM companies operating the country, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change discloses here.
The CDC provides scanty detail, but further revealsthat frantic discussions surrounding the legal and financial ramifications of the surcharge by Orange Liberia and Lonestar Cell MTN are ongoing and assures the public of a return to status quo in the pricing of data.
CDC Chairman MulbahMorlu calls on citizens to remain calm as President Weah takes seize of the matter that significantly limited thousands, if not millions of subscribers’ capacity to make adequate daily calls and utilize the social media due to increase in minutes and data prices.
Addressing a news conference Tuesday, at the CDC headquarters in Congo Town outside Monrovia, Morlu at the same time warned the LTA to exercise care and prudence in pronouncing policies that have implications for the people, and could put reputation of the government at risk concerning its Pro-Poor Agenda, which he describes as a core value of the ruling establishment.
He says while the CDC is not dwelling on the facts and details of the recent pronouncement by GSM companies, the recent price changes announced by both companies have elements of collusion, noting it is punishable by law.
The CDC calls on the LTA and GSM companies to resolve all disagreements in the soonest possible time to provide relief to Liberians.
Morlu laments that the party decries the breakdown of dispute resolution mechanism between the LTA and the GSM companies, adding that the breakdown led to litigation, which culminated in the recent Supreme Court ruling, favoring the government.
“We believe despite this ruling, both sides should return to the dispute resolution mechanism enshrined in the Act establishing the LTA or to other suitable framework that places the Supreme Court ruling in proper context”, the ruling party chairman underscores.
He reminds the GSM companies that it is always in the interest of the Government of Liberia to protect businesses and their investment, noting that such must be done in a way that enhance the interest of the Liberian people.
Hence, the CDC urges both companies to return to their first agreement that led to the ruling of the Supreme Court.
“The CDC warns the two GSM companies to refrain from political machinations which the party believes is a crime of economic sabotage”, Morlu argues.
GSM companies here and the LTA have been in serious disagreement over surcharge levied by the latter, with the regulatory authority demanding a return to status quo, an instruction the companies are reneging on.
“Orange Liberia informs all its customers that it will place an “additional cost” (surcharge) in the amount of$0.008 for each minute of on-net voice and US$0.00065 of data in compliance with the LTA Order: 0016-02-25 issued by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority on February 25, 2019. As from Monday 5th October 2020 offers shall be amended gradually going forward”, the Management of Orange Liberia Incorporated texted its subscribers across the country recently.
However, immediately the surcharge took effect, citizens began to feel the economic pinch in recharging their mobiles, making communication further expensive and unbearable, particularly for the average citizen. \
By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne