Recently, the House of Representatives expressed displeasure over the abolition of the popular "three-day free call promotion."
However, what is worth noting here is 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.
It is further interesting to note that the imposition of this US$0.01 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.
Recently, the legislators, after passing the U$0.1 tax per minute on voice calls, summoned LoneStarCell/MTN including Benoni Urey, the Liberia Telecommunication Authority, Ministry of Finance and Liberia Revenue Authority to provide clarity on the cessation of the three-day ‘free’ call promotion by the company.
It is also interesting to note that the deliberation on the cessation of the promo by the company was not an item of the House agenda for its Tuesday session, but it was included based on a recommendation of Rep. Acarous Gray who stressed the need to discuss the matter.
After several hours of deliberation, the legislators voted to invite the Board of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority, LoneStarCell/MTN and its Board Chairman, Benoni Urey and the Liberia Revenue Authority to appear Thursday, January 17, 2017.
On Sunday, January 15, 2017, a month after the legislators amended the tax code, the Company in a text message to its customers stated: “Dear Valued Subscriber, in line with the Government’s Excise tax on Domestic Voice call, effective 15 January, we have made adjustments to our promotional to our promotional packages”.
The GSM company’s announcement came after an LTA communication addressed to all GSM companies operating in Liberia, informing them of the coming into effect of Section 1165 of the Amended Revenue Code which was recently passed by an act of legislation, signed into law and subsequently printed into handbills.
Meanwhile, the Liberia Business Association (LIBA) has condemned the Government of Liberia for levying new taxes on telephone calls, imported alcoholic beverages and other commodities.
As much as we realize and recognize the need for Government to raise needed taxes for the general welfare of its citizens, it is utterly dastardly to impose new taxes on goods and services considering the financial hardships the nation is presently going through.
The imposition of new taxes, we sincerely feel, must be commensurate with structural adjustments that allow the citizenry to cushion the general hardship. Otherwise, this is a ready recipe for disaster.