The Coalition of Youth and Students for a Better Liberia (CYSBL), a local advocacy group, has said it is disappointed in Mr. Benoni Urey, political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), for his recent letter to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf disputing Cellcom GSM’s three-day free calls bargain offered to customers.
Mr. Urey is chairman of Lonestar Cell MTN in Liberia; a GSM company that once sold SIM cards for US$65 and scratch cards for US$15, with a duration period of only a week.
CYSBL Executive Director Ishmael Koffeh contended that Mr. Urey’s request to the President to stop the three-day Cellcom promotion was not right and called on him to apologize to Liberians.
He said the ALP political leader’s attitude has proven to ordinary people that if he is elected President, Liberians will encounter prolonged suffering, “because prices of goods and services will sky-rocket, only for his presidency to maximize profits.”
Mr. Koffeh, however, praised Cellcom for breaking the barrier created by Lonestar when it was the only service provider in the country.
“We thank Cellcom for breaking down Lonestar’s monopoly virus to the extent that all Liberians and foreign residents are able to communicate through the cheapest means,” Mr. Koffeh said.
He said the Cellcom promotion is helping every mobile user in the country to communicate with their loved ones for any length of time. “Therefore, we are angry with Mr. Urey for his so-called letter to the President. Because of that, we do not trust him with our country,” he added.
Mr. Koffeh called on Liberians, particularly those using the three-day Cellcom promotion, to campaign vigorously against Mr. Urey’s “cheap propaganda against a GSM provider that is in the interest of the downtrodden masses.”
It may be recalled that on March 14, Mr. Urey wrote a letter to President Sirleaf calling her attention to what he said were the damaging effects of certain promotions he called ‘freebies’ offered by telecommunications service providers operating in the Liberian economy.
In that letter, Urey said government was losing tens of millions of United States dollars in potential tax revenues as a result of the promotions.
He also linked the loss of potential tax revenues to loss of industry revenues, and subsequent loss of industry jobs.
Cellcom, however, dismissed Urey’s claims as “carefully calculated attempts to prolong Lonestar/MTN’s goal of restricting competition and thereby continuing to exploit the Liberian people.”