[concord times] National telecommunications commission, NATCOM has imposed heavy fines of US$50,000 each on two of the country's leading mobile phone operators for violating the Telecommunications Act of 2003.
Africell Lintel Sierra Leone and Zain Sierra Leone were fined for their unannounced increase in the price of their recharge cards without first consulting with the commission, which is solely responsible for regulating all GSM companies operating in the country.
NATCOM's public affairs manager, Abdul Kuyateh told Concord Times yesterday that the two companies were in total violation of sections 52 and 53 of the Telecommunications Act. "Section 52 says GSM operators should notify the commission in writing before any increase is made, while 53 says the commission should give approval," he explained.
It could be recalled that mobile phone companies in the country, without prior notice to subscribers, increased their tariffs on recharge cards after the national revenue authority, NRA commenced the implementation of the goods and services tax, GST.
Kuyateh said letters of notification of NATCOM's decision have been officially handed over to the two GSM operators since Monday and that they have until January 18 to pay their respective fines.
"If the two companies failed to pay their fines on January 18 which is the stipulated date, further action will definitely be taken against them in accordance with the Act," he said.
The NATCOM public affairs manager maintained that Comium Sierra Leone was exempted because they agreed to reduce their tariff immediately after a meeting with the minister of information and communication, NRA and other key stakeholders in the telecommunications industry.
Africell's chief commercial officer, Bernard Sisay said he cannot comment on the issue because it was not to his knowledge.
For their part, Zain's brand and communications officer, Rufina Tucker also refused to comment on the issue.
For Violating Telecoms Act - Zain, Africell Fined U.S.$50,000 Each