House Accuses Lonestar Of Deception Over ‘Free Call’ Promotion
By Wilfred Gortor
MONROVIA, January 18 (LINA) - The House of Representatives has expressed dissatisfaction over the abolition of the popular "three-day free call promotion," by Lonestar Cell MTN, terming it as "an act of deception."
Lonestar Cell MTN is the oldest wireless telecommunication network in Liberia.
Established in 2000, the company enjoyed a vast period of monopoly in Liberia's telecommunication sector before it owned 48 percent of the Liberian GSM market in 2011.
Lonestar became a subsidiary of MTN, a South African conglomerate following MTN's acquisition of Investcom, a Beirut-based telecom company which was instrumental in the formation of Lonestar Cell.
It can be recalled that at the close of its extraordinary session in December 2016, the 53rd National Legislature ratified the Tax Amendment Act of 2016 with specific adjustments which saw the imposition of US$0.01 (one cent) charge on all local calls.
The imposition of this charge was necessitated by a public hearing in which officials of Liberia's two leading GSM companies (Lonestar and Cellcom),
assured the legislature that the imposition of this one cent tax would not affect the regular three days free calls promotion.
However, to the dismay of the Legislature, Lonestar Cell on January 16 aborted the three-day free call promotion on grounds that it was informed by the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) to implement the one US cent per minute tax on all local calls.
Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray, who raised the discontent by alluding to the assurances that were given by the companies prior to the passage of the Tax Amendment Act, termed the action by Lonestar as "deceptive."
Gray, who did not vote in favor of the passage of the Tax Amendment Act, contended that the action by Lonestar amounts to contempt as the company lied under oath of the legislature, and recommended that the entity be investigated.
He said the act by Lonestar Cell, which also amounts to perjury, has the propensity to pit the public against members of the legislature, especially as the 2017 elections draw closer.
Meanwhile, the House has voted unanimously, to invite authorities of Lonestar Cell, LTA, the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) as well as the Ministry of Finance to adequately address the situation.