FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

Liberia Cancels MOU Signed By Libtelco Board, Swiss Firm

Monrovia — Based upon the report of an investigating team, the Government has cancelled the Memorandum of Understanding which the previous Board of Directors of the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO) had signed with Ketter Telecom (K3),a European company, because of the failure to comply with provisions of the Public Procurement Act.

Ketter Telecom (K3) can now apply to the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) for a license to use the equipment it purchased at LIBTELCO's request, and to render telecommunications services as desired.

According to an Executive Mansion release, the President is now in the process of reconstituting a new LIBTELCO Board and, in the meantime, has requested the suspended Managing Director, Mr. Ben Wolo, and his Deputy, Mr. Paul Muah, to hold on as Interim Managers pending the completion, by the Civil Service Agency (CSA), of a professional recruitment process.

Debunking the LTA Lie: Email Exchanges Tell A Different Story

For the benefit of our readers, we are again publishing verbatim an exchange between the editor of FrontPageAfrica and Ms. Angelique Weeks, the head of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority prior to the publication of our first story regarding the unfolding developments at the LTA regarding the subleasing of a building from a Chinese tenant for the use of an office space by the LTA. This is necessary to address statements made on both the truth FM Breakfast Show on 96.1 and the state-owned Liberia Broadcasting System by Ms. Weeks and her Media Consultant Ms. Jarsea Burphy that FrontPageAfrica did not contact them or give them sufficient time to respond. Thanks to modern technology, the dates and times of the email exchanges are clear. You be the judge. Please Note that the LTA's first official response came five days after our initial inquiry for a response. Both Ms. Weeks and her Communications Consultant, Jarsea Burphy called the editor on Saturday, February 1, 2014 when the Monday print production was already wrapping up. Ms. Weeks proposed a Monday, February 3rd interview, but was informed that the best we could do is update the story for the online edition. She promised to call Sunday, February 2nd, at 5pm after she left church in Crozierville but never did.

Re: Inquiry About MOU Rental Property Pact Between LTA & Qingjian

Sent from my Galaxy Grand Duos

On Jan 29, 2014 1:55 AM, <

Hon Weeks,

Hope all is well. We recently came in possession of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) and Qingjian International(Lib) Group Development Co. Ltd.(CNQC) to sub lease a four-story office building containing thirty-one rooms and six bath rooms situated on two lots of land, lying and situated on the Congotown Back Road, approximately 100 yards from the First Baptist Church, Congo Town.

The price tag is said to be in the tone of US$385,000.00(three hundred eighty five thousand United States Dollars per year, and to pay three years up front. The total LTA would pay the Chinese landlord would come to US$1,155,000.00(one million, one hundred, fifty five thousand united states dollars)

We plan on running a story and are seeking clarification on the following:

A. Would this building replace the current two rental properties the LTA is currently using?

B. How does the LTA intend to fund this project? Who will pay?

C. During your recent confirmation hearing before the Senate you insinuated that the LTA was unable to effectively carry out its functions because of lack of funds to procure certain equipment. Don't you think the purchase of such an elaborate building would raise a red flag especially in the wake of recent declaration from the Minister of Finance that the LTA has not met its commitments to support the national budget?

D. Couldn?t the LTA use such funds, if they have it to actually build a building of their own?

E. Do you think spending one million plus dollars on a lease property is good investment for the LTA and value for money for Liberia and its international partners?

F. Finally, did the LTA seek approval from the Public Procurement Concessions Commission before advancing on the lease property? Looking forward to hearing from you before going to press. We are also open to conduct an interview with you regarding this at a time of your convenience.

Sincerely

Rodney D. Sieh

Publisher, FrontPageAfrica

www.frontpageafricaonline.com

On Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 3:16 AM, Angelique Weeks

<

Mr. Sieh:

I am about to go to sleep after a long and hectic day, so I'm not currently disposed to provide a detailed response. However, I can tell you that some of your information is wrong, so the premise of many of your questions is flawed. If you'd like to arrange an interview with me, please contact Ms Jarsea Burphy, LTA's Director of Public Affairs, who I'm copying for her awareness. Thanks.

Angelique Weeks, Chairperson

Liberia Telecommunications Authority

RELATED STORIES:

Selective Justice? Problematic LTA Woes Come Full Circle

Fire & Ice: Dismissal at Public Works, LTA Account Frozen

Wasted Million: Liberia Telecom Regulator in US$1.1M Scandal

Sun, 2 Feb 2014 23:41:02 +0000 [02/02/2014 05:41:02 PM CST]

Mr. Sieh:

Please find below, the LTA's written responses to the questions you have raised relative to our New Office Building. I've just learned that my staff has not yet arranged the interview you requested. However, I am still amenable to doing said interview if you wish. Thanks, CHAIR-------A.

*Frontpage: The price tag is said to be in the tone of US$385,000.00 (three hundred eighty five thousand United States Dollars per year, and to pay three years up front. The total LTA would pay the Chinese landlord would come to US$1,155,000.00 (one million, one hundred, fifty five thousand united states dollars)*

*Answer:* The initial term of the Lease Agreement between LTA and CNQC for LTA's New Office Building is for three (3) years, at $385,000 per year, payable *yearly* at the commencement of each Lease year. While this amount might seem significant, it is not, taking into consideration, the Cost Benefit Analysis conducted in connection with selecting the subject property, which *indicates overall annual cost savings for the LTA** through the consolidation of all offices and staff . *

*Frontpage: Would this building replace the current two rental properties the LTA is currently renting?*

*Answer:* The LTA offices were housed in *three* rental properties, not *two*. In addition, the World Bank financed WARCIP Liberia Project, for which the LTA is Project Implementing Agency, occupies a fourth rental property. Staff from all four buildings can be accommodated in the LTA's New Office Building.

The three (3) properties leased by the LTA over the past several years preceding lease of the New Office Building are:

1. Third floor of the United Methodist Church LAC Building and generator house on 12th Street. This site housed three (3) of LTA's five Departments (Engineerring & Technology; Licensing & Regulations; and Government & Consumer Affairs.

2. Entire building on the V.P. Road in Congo Town to accommodate our Administration Operations and Legal Department and the Office of the Chairperson of the LTA.

3. Second floor of the Pan African Travel Agency Building In Congo Town, which houses the International Gateway Services Department.

The LTA's New Office Building provides a single location to house all of our operations, staff and Spectrum Monitoring Equipment when acquired, while we continue to look for a suitable location to build our very own facility with enough space to accommodate the anticipated growth of the LTA.

*Frontpage: How does the LTA intend to fund the project? Who will pay?*

*Answer: *The LTA's New Office Building is funded by LTA's 2013-2014 Budget, which allocated adequate funding in contemplation of consolidating all of our offices in one property. The process was executed transparently through a public tender process pursuant to the PPC Act; several other

buildings were considered prior to the final decision of the LTA's Procurement Committee.

*Frontpage: During your recent confirmation hearing before the Senate you insinuated that the LTA was unable to effectively carry out its functions because of lack of funds to procure certain equipment. Don't you think the purchase of such an elaborate building would raise a red flag especially in the wake of recent declaration from the Minister of Finance that the LTA has not met its commitments to support the national budget? Couldn't the LTA use such funds if they have it to actually build a building of their own?*

*Answer: *The lack of Spectrum Monitoring Equipment was the specific mention made during the Senate hearing as a set back to the LTA's ability to monitor and manage the nation's scarce spectrum resource. The LTA has compelling information that suggests that a significant number of radio stations in Liberia are operating with frequencies that have not been assigned by the LTA. The ability to monitor spectrum will enable us to curb the practice and collect much needed revenue through the licensing process. The equipment costs over US$2 Million dollars and will be paid for over a number of years, including a down payment in the current budget year. The LTA has completed the required PPCC public tender process to select a vendor willing to pre-finance the procurement. We are now awaiting feedback from the Ministry of Finance in order to move the process forward.

The LTA's New Office Building is being *leased, not purchased,* as mentioned in your question; however, bringing our entire work force together in one location adds tremendous value to our collective synergy and productivity; and as previously stated, our Cost Benefit Analysis indicates that the LTA should realize annual cost savings from being housed in the New Office Building.

The reference to the shortfall in the LTA contribution to the budget is inaccurate. The LTA and Ministry of Finance (MoF) agreed to a revenue sharing model, whereby the LTA would retain 55% of revenue for its operations and 45% would be contributed to the National Budget. Pursuant to this understanding, the estimated US$3.8Million revenues from re-farming Libercell's license and related frequency authorization would be retained by the LTA and thus, should not be considered as a contributing factor accounting for MoF's budget shortfall. The LTA acknowledges that there may be a very small shortfall of revenues payable to the MoF, estimated at US$370,876.05. This calculation is based on projected and actual revenue collections to date from international calls to Liberia, which is far less than the US$601,000 revenue shortfall claimed by the MoF in a recent letter to the LTA.

The LTA took the requisite steps to revoke and re-farm Libercell's license and frequency authorization because of Libercell's failure to pay license, spectrum and regulatory fees owed to both the MOF and the LTA for a number of years, to present. The value of the license and frequency authorization, if re-farmed, is approximately 3.8 Million US Dollars. Libercell responded by taking the LTA to court, which has delayed the revocation and re-farming process.

Mon, 03 Feb 2014 07:57:30 -0600 [02/03/2014 07:57:30 AM CST]

Hon. Weeks,

Thanx for the partial response to our inquiry. We will make sure to give it the same prominence of the original story. But we would need responses to the unanswered questions which I have re-listed below:

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

D. Couldn't the LTA use such funds, if they have it to actually build a building of their own?

E. Do you think spending one million plus dollars on a lease property is good investment for the LTA and value for money for Liberia and its international partners?

F. Finally, did the LTA seek approval from the Public Procurement Concessions Commission before advancing on the lease property?

Ads by Google

Copyright © 2014 FrontPageAfrica. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.