By Wilfred Gortor
Monrovia, January 26 (LINA) – The Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) has recommended that the House of Representatives allots three months to telecommunication companies in the country to raise awareness and adjust their billing systems.
The LTA said in a letter to the office of the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives on Thursday that the three-month transition period should run from the first of February to April 30, adding that it will collect taxes for the period of January 15-31.
The LTA recommendation grew out of a communication forwarded to it by the Office of the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives in which the LTA was requested to review the Act creating the LTA and the license of Lonestar Communication MTN Network with specific reference to penalties, among other things.
The letter from the Chief Clerk office was occasioned by the appearance of the management of Lonestar cell before the House Plenary for the purpose of providing clarity on reasons why it (Lonestar) aborted its « three days free call promotion. »
With specific reference to the passage of the 2016 Tax Amendment Act in which a US$0.01(one cent) per minute tax was imposed on all local voice call, the House contended that the passage of the Act was informed by Lonestar who vowed during a scheduled public hearing that the tax imposition would not have affected the call promotion.
The Management of Lonestar could not adequately defend nor proffer convincing reasons why it aborted the call promotion something which necessitated the House to instruct the LTA and the Ministry of Justice to peruse the LTA Act and recommend the harshest punishment for the company.
But, as contained in its report, the LTA also recommended that during the three-month transition period, the LTA and Liberia Revenue Authority will conduct a public awareness campaign that will include town hall awareness in communities and the media.
Among other recommendations, the LTA said to compensate subscribers for the inadequate prior notice and information about changes, as contained in Section 48(1) of the LTA Act, Lonestar should be made to provide its subscribers US$5 credit to be used for on-net calls after the transition period.
Meanwhile, the House has constituted an ad-hoc committee to work alongside the LTA and Justice Ministry to adequately conclude the matter as regards further fines for Lonestar Cell relative to a charge of perjury.