Proposed Novafone Sale to Lonestar Cell MTN Concerns Senate

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The Presiding Officer of the 39th day sitting of the Liberian Senate, Grand Cape Mount County Ranking Senator Varney G Sherman, through the plenary of the Senate yesterday, mandated the Committee on Post and Telecommunications to investigate the imminent sale of Novafone GSM Company to Lonestar Cell MTN.

The Senate’s decision was prompted by a communication from Grand Kru County Senator Peter Sonpon Coleman in which he wrote: “We like to bring to the attention of the Liberian Senate the proposed sale of the Novafone GSM Company to Lonestar Cell MTN. It can be recalled that in a communication to the plenary of the Liberian Senate, the Acting Managing Director of LIBTELCO wrote about ongoing discussion regarding the sale.”

The Grand Kru lawmaker, who chairs the Senate Committee on Gender, Health, Social Welfare, Women & Children Affairs, noted that to ensure that this transaction is transparent and not shrouded with secrecy, as was the case of the LIBTELCO/Novafone deal, “It is important that details of this arrangement be made available to the Liberian people,” and added that the process needs to be transparent, and that benefits to be accrued by the Liberian people be made known.

The issue concerning the sale of Novafone GSM Company to Libtelco first came to the attention of the Senate last month, prompting the Post & Telecommunications Committee, chaired by Sen. Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, to cite Libtelco Managing Director Sebastian

Muah. But at that brief hearing in the Chamber of the Senate, Muah informed that Committee that the sale of Novafone to Libtelco was off the table, because according to him the issue was politicized.

Muah was then invited by the plenary to appear before it with all relevant documents, but his deputy wrote back to inform the Senate that his boss was in the United States.

A second letter arrived days later reportedly written by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Libtelco, Mr. Carlos Smith, informing the Senate that both he and the Managing Director were in the United States, and that the MD would be back in Liberia by June 21, 2016.

Following hours of debate and condemnation, citing the MD’s sheer lack of respect to the First Branch of Government, the Senators voted and agreed to hold their peace and requested the Secretary of the Senate to write and cite him to appear before that body on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.

Before that, Senators like Dallas Gueh of River Cess County had displayed their anger in no uncertain terms. “No need to beat the air; we have shown our soft belly, and they are taking us for granted.”

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