The Liberian businessman told the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that 90% of the country’s media institutions are indebted to Government as well.
Mr. Urey said Government action is deliberate, intended to suppress free press in the country because the Ministry of Information has failed to forward details surrounding tax obligation to him for payment.He said his management has no problem in paying taxes to the Government but he wants to know how Government arrived at the figure of US$50,000.00 and for how many years LIB24 has not paid its legal fees to the Government.The Liberian Government through the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) recently closed down LIB24 and Shatta FM in Careysburg for allegedly owing the Liberian Government in taxes, and changing nomenclature without the approval of the LTA.
The management of LIB24 few years ago changed the station nomenclature from Love FM to LIB24, without informing the LTA, something which the LTA says is a violation.
In the BBC interview Mr. Urey claimed that government’s action is not only intended to silence critical voice on his stations, but to also deny the Liberian people from getting basic information which educates them on their basic rights.
He said the Liberian Government wants to stifle his critical position on issues in government especially denying the Liberian people their resources and reducing them to desolation in the country.
The All Liberian Party (ALP) political leader and shareholder of GSM Lonestar Company also claimed that through his 40% share from Lone Star he has earned millions of dollars, and not from the Liberia Maritime Authority as claimed by many people.
Mr. Urey did not say whether he will respond to government’s claims but promised to ensure the reopening of the stations soon.
The Government of Liberia through the LTA last month shut down the Voice FM owned by Mr. Henry Costa for allegedly operating on a frequency which does not belong to the station.
Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Information Culture and Tourism said the closure of the station is predicated upon the fact that Sarafina Ventures and Communication Inc. (Love FM 105.1) has not regularized its status nor paid its license and other fees for over 5 years in keeping with relevant provisions of the Telecommunications Licensing Authorization Regulations.”
According to the MICAT press release, the LTA regulations also require that any use of radio frequencies must be in accordance with a valid radio spectrum license or radio frequency authorization.
MICAT further states that in addition to the station’s failure to regularize its status in keeping with law, Sarafina Ventures and Communications Inc. (Love FM 105.1 and Love TV Channel 7) unilaterally and without prior written consent of the LTA, transferred the frequency 105.1 to another corporation, LIB-24 Incorporated which operated LIB 24 Radio prior to the closure.
The government said that prior to resorting to court action, there had been series of discussions and exchange of communications over several years with the management of Sarafina Ventures & Communications Inc. during which it implored the corporation to accede to the requirements, pay the required fees and legitimize its operations.
Several invoices were delivered to Sarafina Ventures & Communication requesting payment over a number of years, but it failed to do so. Nevertheless, Sarafina Ventures and Communications Inc. proceeded to transfer the license and or frequency to LIB 24 Incorporated even though it was no longer legitimately assigned the frequency nor received authorization to do so in keeping with law.