The House of Representatives has mandated the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) to review the recent action by Lonestar Cell MTN to determine any wrongdoing and appropriate “maximum punishment.”
The Justice Ministry and the LTA are expected to submit their review to the House on Thursday, January 26.
The House has also mandated Lonestar Cell MTN to restore the three-day free calls promotion.
House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay said the halt or the adjustment of the three-day promotion by Lonestar, after the company’s public pledge to continue the promotions without transferring the burden of the “tax increment” to consumers, is tantamount to perjury and wants the Ministry of Justice to investigate it.
The Speaker said Lonestar’s action also has the propensity to inspire political insurgence and insecurity in the country as well as risk the re-election of lawmakers.
Speaker Nuquay, in a troubled mood in Tuesday’s session, said Lonestar’s action further hurts the Legislature – bringing the honorable House into public disrepute.
The Speaker made the “clear-cut assertions” after hours of debate among lawmakers, about the “adjustment” of the Lonestar Cell MTN’s three-day free calls promotion to only “20 minutes per day” as of January 15, 2017.
Representatives Prince Moye, Acarous Gray, Jeremiah Koung, Garrison Yealue and Edwin Snowe were among lawmakers who did not take favorably to Lonestar Cell MTN’s action.
Maryland County Representative Dr. Bhofal Chambers said the best alternative is to repeal the “Tax Law” that gave cause for Lonestar Cell MTN’s action.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Lonestar Cell MTN, Lewis Roberts, on Tuesday argued that the three-day free-calls promotion was not halted, but adjusted, an assertion which lawmakers strongly rejected, saying, that was not Lonestar Cell MTN’s “promise” during the public hearings.
Mr. Roberts, accompanied by four top staff members, accused their detractors of an “unending propaganda.”
It may be recalled that in December 2016, the House of Representative approved the “Tax Law” to impose excise tax on alcohol, water, cigarette and one cent per minute on every voice call locally.