The New Dawn (Monrovia)

6 January 2014

Liberia: Executive Mansion Dismisses LIBTELCO Board

The Executive Mansion in Monrovia has strongly rejected claims by Ms. Ciata Victor, administrator of the TLCafrica website and one of the suspended members of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation Board, contained in an article titled "The Muah Brothers in position to take full control of GOL's Interest in the Cable Consortium of Liberia or CCL" on the official website of TLC Africa.

The Executive Mansion rejected the contents of the article in its entirety, expressing the belief that it represented total misinformation with no bearing or connection as to why the LIBTELCO Board of Directors and its Managing Director were suspended by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on Friday, December 20, 2013, following the Board's meeting with the President.

The Executive Mansion also clarified that the Liberian leader suspended the LIBTELCO Board and Managing Director based on a recommendation from the Ministry of Justice, for entering into and executing a Memorandum of Understanding with Ketter Telecom (K3) a Swiss Company, and an agreement in a nature of a joint venture with K3 Telecom Liberia (K3Telecom), a company organized under the laws of Liberia - both of which were not consistent with the laws of Liberia, including, in particular, the Executive, PPCC and the Public Financial Management Laws.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the suspension was also based on the fact that the LIBTELCO Board and Management failed to submit the draft MOU with Ketter Telecom (K3) and the Agreement with K3Telecom Liberia or K3 Telecom to the Ministry of Justice for attestation, as required by law, and because it was established by the Justice Ministry that some provisions in both documents are onerous and not in furtherance of the interests of the corporation, the government and people of Liberia.

LIBTELCO is a 100 percent government-owned corporation, vital to the national defense and security of the Republic of Liberia. Its assets, including infrastructure, permits and licenses, are wholly and solely owned by the Government of the Republic of Liberia, and that no one has the authority to unilaterally dispose of same without the approval of the Government of Liberia.

According to the Executive Mansion release, the agreements executed by LIBTELCO were not in compliance with the laws governing the execution of agreements.

It pointed out that under the Executive law, "No employee of the Executive branch of the Government shall enter into any agreement to which the Government is a party or execute any other legal document affecting the interest of the Government without first obtaining from the Ministry of Justice advice concerning its validity and legal effect."

The Executive Mansion further noted that the requirement for the review and attestation of agreements by the Ministry of Justice prior to execution was not limited to the Executive law.

The Public Financial Management Act of 2009, section 24(4) also provides that: "All contracts falling within the threshold set forth in the regulations under the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission Act as amended to date shall be reviewed and approved by the Minister and attested to by the Minister of Justice or his/her designee."

Regulation No. 003, on Thresholds of the Amended and Restated PPPC Act, 2010, section 10 on Contracts over US$250,000 also states that: "The Ministry of Finance shall take part in negotiations and signing of contracts over US$250,000 and the contract shall be attested to by the Ministry of Justice."

The Executive Mansion also noted that all of the above-mentioned provisions of the different laws were violated in the Memorandum of Understanding with Ketter Telecom (K3) and the agreement with K3 Telecom Liberia (K3TELECOM), something which constrained the President to suspend the Board of Directors and the Managing Director of LIBTELCO to vindicate the integrity of the law and to protect the interests of the Government of Liberia.

While the suspension is ongoing, Dr. Frederick Norkeh, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, will act as Chairman of the LIBTELCO Board.

Meanwhile, President Sirleaf has appointed Acting Board Members of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), pending their formal nomination for confirmation by the Liberian Senate on their return from recess.

Those appointed include Sister Mary Laurene Brown, chairman; Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, member, Mr. Jonathan Yiah, member; Sustainable Development Institute (representing civil society), John Davies, member; Liberia Bank for Development and Investment, representing the business sector, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture as statutory member, Ministry of Labour, statutory member and Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, statutory member.

In a related development, the President has reconstituted the Board of Directors of the Liberia Airport Authority (LPA). Those named to the board are Mr. Binyah Kesselly, chairman;

Mr. Edward Dunn, member; Ms. Amy Clark, member; Aumuo Abdallah, member, as well as Captain Moses K. Weefur (LCAA), statutory member; Ministry of Transport, statutory member, and the Managing Director, LAA, statutory member.

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