Ruling Coalition for Democratic Change lawmaker, Acarous Moses Gray says GSM companies operating in the country may leave if they want to, but insists the operators must pay surcharge fees, as they earlier agreed with the government through the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, LTA.
Mr. Gray isMontserrado County Electoral District #8 Representative, and vice chairman of President Weah’s governing CDC. The two operators of GSM companies here, Orange and Lonestar Cell MTNhad allegedly threatened to pull out if the government pushes for the surcharge to be paid by them instead of customers.
Rep. Gray notes that concerns of the operators are just mere bluffs and if they left today, there are hundreds of GSM operators waiting to come invest in Liberia. Addressing a news conference Thursday, June 18, at the Capitol in Monrovia, he maintains that it is unthinkable for GSM companies operating here to argue that surcharge fees should be passed over to customers.
He adds that the Liberia Telecommunications Authority and the two GSM operators reached an agreement which put an end to the three days free call in order for the companies to generate more revenue so that they can pay the surcharge and that agreement stands.
According to him, since the enforcement of that agreement, both Orange and MTN LoneStar have generated about 14 percent increment in revenue, but both companies are allegedly reneging to pay to government.
Gray threatens that if the companies failed to pay as was earlier agreed, he would introduce bills that will restrict GSM companies from imposing further fees on services without knowledge of government especially, the Liberian Legislature.
He notes that in 2016, during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, an executive of Lonestar Cell MTN, Mr. Benoni Urey wrote Madam Sirleaffor the surcharge which points to the three days free call being cutoff but that was not enforced until the Coalition for Democrat Change administration took office, when MTN LoneStar was on the verge of closure due to lack of revenue generation.
Gray explains that as a result of that, the government is not willing to accept monopoly in these contemporary times and therefore, modified the model to 45 minutes for three days, suggesting that surcharge fees were already being captured.
He further threatens that if the companies reneged in adhering to the agreement signed, he would lobby for its revocation, noting that the operators are not fair in the process, which is unacceptable.
By Bridgett Milton –Editing by Jonathan Browne