6 January 2014

Africa: EM Rejects TLC Africa Report

The Executive Mansion says it strongly rejects claims contained in an article titled "The Muah Brothers in position to take full control of GOL's Interest in the Cable Consortium of Liberia (CCL)," which appeared on the official website of TLC Africa.

The EM said the article, written by Ms. Ciata Victor, administrator of the website and one of the suspended members of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation Board, contained misinformation which needed to be clarified.

According to a release, the Executive Mansion rejects the contents of the article in its entirety and believes it represents total misinformation that has 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 indicated 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 at the same time, entered a joint venture with K3 Telecom Liberia (K3TELECOM), a Company organized under the laws of Liberia.

The EM release noted that both of the agreements were not consistent with the laws of Liberia, including in particular the Executive Law, the PPCC law, and the Public Financial Management Law.

Therefore, 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, 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. It is also 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. Hence, no one has the authority to unilaterally dispose of same without the approval of the Government of Liberia, the Executive Mansion accentuated.

The release further stated that the agreements executed by LIBTELCO were not in compliance with the laws governing the execution of agreements. 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."

Moreover, the requirement for the review and attestation of agreements by the Ministry of Justice prior to execution is not limited to the Executive law, but also to the Public Financial Management Act of 2009. Section 24(4) of the PFM Act 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."

Finally, Regulation No. 003, on Thresholds of the Amended and Restated PPC 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 concluded 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). Hence the President was constrained 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.

During the period of the suspension, the Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Dr. Frederick Norkeh will act as Chairman of the LIBTELCO Board.

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