President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has frozen the accounts of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, (LTA) headed by Angelique Weeks.
The Liberian leader also suspended the US$1 million lease agreement between LTA and a Chinese construction company, Qinjian International, for a building LTA intended to secure as office. President Sirleaf took the decision to freeze the account of the LTA on Tuesday February 4, 2014
Though the release from the Executive Mansion indicates that the LTA “intends” to secure the building as office space, credible sources have it that LTA has indeed relocated its offices to where they are paying a steeper figure in the range of $385,000 per year for the lease of the property.
Sources said that consolidating all their employees in one location rather than three or four, cuts down on the number of security personnel; the cost of generator and fuel at the previous premises.
The building in question is located on the Congo Town back road, around the Chinese Embassy. The LTA last week left its 12th street headquarters and relocated in the Congo Town area, a move that may have been done without the consent of the Liberian leader.
The process of leasing the building, it is strongly believed, was approved by the Public Procurement Concessions Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice, but the President might have preferred being informed of the move.
The Finance Ministry, according to one source, was fully involved with the lease-agreement, as it had to approve the expenditure. The Justice Ministry was involved as well, since the lease involved a private party and a government entity.
“The PPCC had been on board from the beginning, to make sure we followed procedures as stipulated in the guidelines. We have no problem renting from legitimate landlords who pay taxes to government, the source said.
The LTA earlier had leased three buildings at three different locations, prior to its last-week move. While not cheap, the new location allows the LTA to foster greater unity among employees and provide an excellent area for the International Gateway Monitoring System that takes up an entire floor.
It was indicated that the West Africa Regional Communications Project was also relocating to the site in March. “The cost of the move was budgeted and approved in our 2013-2014 budget.
We have been very transparent about this whole procedure pursuant to the PPCC Act. We looked at other buildings and considered other locations before the final choice was made,” a source said.
Asked why the LTA does not just purchase a building or buy and build, we were told that they intend to find a location that will allow them to accommodate their growing staff, as well as for Spectrum Monitoring equipment. ‘We would prefer to build but we have to find the right location to allow for expansion and growth.”