‘Cellcom Playing Politics’

first_imgALP Standard Bearer and former Maritime boss, Benoni W. UreyMobile telecommunications subscribers in Liberia are watching with great interest and anticipation as the rivalry between Cellcom Telecommunications and Lonestar Cell MTN escalates. The rivalry has raged on for several years now, mainly as a war of wit, with both companies using highly creative, yet provocative marketing messages attempting to woo customers to either side. But this war of wit has escalated to a vicious war of words – blunt, scathing, shaming public remarks that might soon require the intervention of an umpire. Telco Sector ‘Politicized’In a sharp reaction to a press statement released earlier this week by Cellcom, Lonestar warned her rival not to politicize the telecommunications sector. Cellcom had reacted to a Mach 14, 2016 letter by Benoni Urey, Chairman of Lonestar Cell MTN, which called the attention of the President of Liberia to apparent damaging effects of certain promotions (he called them ‘freebies’) offered by telecommunications service providers to the Liberian economy. Urey, in his March 14, 2016 letter, explained how the government of Liberia was losing tens of millions of United States dollars in potential tax revenue as a result of the promotions. He also linked the loss of potential tax revenue to loss of industry revenue and subsequent loss of industry jobs. Cellcom, however, dismissed Urey’s claims as “carefully calculated attempts to prolong Lonestar/MTN’s goal of restricting competition and thereby continuing to exploit the Liberian people.” Cellcom also described its own promotions as “a way of giving back to the people of Liberia and ensuring that Liberians have a little extra money in their pockets.” “Cellcom’s claim that its promotion is meant to help the less fortunate Liberians is totally ridiculous,” said Zenu Miller, Lonestar’s communications director, adding that, “the truth of the matter is that Cellcom only introduced the US$1 for three days to gain market share at the expense of Lonestar and positioned itself to sell to Orange of La Cote D’Ivoire in the midst of trumped up numbers. “If Cellcom insists on playing politics in the telecommunications communications industry, it must be prepared to answer questions on its shady relations with the Liberian Maritime Program and its owner Yoram Jay Coham of the Liberian International Ship and Corporate Registry (LISCR) to the Liberian People,” Miller said.Lonestar Cell MTN was recognized by the government of Liberia several years in a row as the largest tax paying phone company. The company said while it has the ability to offer better promotions than Cellcom or any GSM company at any level, it chose not to do so at the detriment of the Liberian economy. However Cellcom continues to recall Lonestar’s “exploitative” market entry at the beginning of the last decade, when the company charged US$65 for a SIM card. Lonestar Cell MTN however warned Cellcom against politicizing the telecommunications sector and projecting itself as the only cellphone company that is in the interest of the Liberian people. The company noted, as a good corporate citizen it has the right to sound an alarm and inform the Liberian government against negative tax collection in the telecommunications industry. “In our 15th year of operation, Lonestar Cell MTN is resourced to compete against any service provider on promotions or innovative services,” the company said. Lonestar trying to help?In May this year, the Legislature received a letter from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf proposing, among other things, the imposition of excise of US$0.01 (one U.S. cent) per minute on all phone calls to support the 2016/2017 Fiscal Budget. The proposed excise, if approved by the Legislature, would take effect July 1, 2016, which is the beginning of the government’s fiscal year. As the national budget has not yet passed, it is not clear as to whether the charges would be retroactive to adhere to the July 1 date. Urey’s letter was dated two months before the President’s letter to the Legislature, which suggests that she had given some serious consideration to the matter, but declined to address Urey’s concern about the ‘freebies’. Instead the President proposed a tax on all calls, across the board. What remains unclear, however, is whether the calls covered by the 3-day promotions would be taxed, since in fact they are registered as ‘free calls’.In any case, the Plenary of the House of Representatives mandated its Committees on Ways, Means and Finance and Development Planning, and Judiciary to review the President’s proposal. The committees have not yet reported back to Plenary on the matter. ‘For good of the country’Meanwhile, Lonestar Cell MTN says it has a binding duty to pay its rightful taxes; that every corporation that means well for the Country must join the bandwagon in paying its legitimate taxes due the government on the promotions. Lonestar Cell MTN also clarified that its Board Chairman did not support the end of any promotion, but rather proffered the thought that GSM companies must pay taxes on free and below market calls to government. “The concerns raised by Chairman Urey must not be used as a political tool, but an avenue for strengthening the economic gains of the country. If Cellcom and its CEO are boasting of a successful promotion, why was the Cellcom’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in Guinea expelled for the same promotion? The Guinean Government realized that the promotion was bad for its economy and the value of service,” the release noted.Lonestar Cell MTN said it has shown the raw facts to the Liberian government and the negative impact on its revenue collections, coupled with the results of the market and value destructions of these promotions; in the absence of political innuendos. “For those who have ears to listen, please listen, for we need to stop playing politics with tax payments for the good of this country and its people,” the release cautioned. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Man granted bail for causing death of Melanie woman

first_imgNarsigh Jagsar, of Supply, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara (ECD), was on Thursday released on $300,000 bail after he appeared before Magistrate Peter Hugh in the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court.Jagsar was remanded to prison on March 5, 2018 for causing the death of an elderly woman on the Melanie Public Road.Jagsar was represented by Bernard Da Silva, and is expected to return to court on April 5, 2018.Eighty-seven-year-old Lydia Rodriguez, called “Aunty Baby”, of Lot 51 North Melanie, was struck down around 06:00h, just 15 minutes after she left her home.Reports stated that minibus BKK 6714, which was being driven by Jagsar, was proceeding west along the southern lane of the said road while the pedestrian was standing on the northern side of the road.However, as the minibus approached, Rodriguez began to cross the road from north to south, ending up on the southern lane. As such, she was struck by the vehicle.Rodriguez, who sustained head injuries, was picked up by public-spirited persons in an unconscious state and rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.A breathalyser test conducted on Jagsar showed no trace of alcohol in his system. He was taken into Police custody and was assisting with the investigation.last_img read more

Science Journal Takes Political Sides

first_imgIt might seem unusual or even improper for a science journal to encourage its readers to vote for a particular presidential candidate, especially for voters in a different country than its publishers’ domicile.  Nature Aug. 5 contained two such articles that could hardly be defended as non-partisan.  An editorial1 said in ostensibly neutral terms, “Researchers should seize an opportunity to make their voices heard, whatever their political persuasion,” but made it abundantly clear what that persuasion should be.  “The Bush administration has been heavily criticized in scientific quarters,” it says, and reports on the Union of Concerned Scientists claiming that Bush has been guilty of “the politicization of science.”  Kerry, however is not so criticized; the editorial quotes a group of scientists that claims “John Kerry will restore science to its appropriate place in government and bring it back into the White House.”  Though trying to appear neutral, the editorial seems clearly tilted left.    That leftward stance is reinforced by a news article in the same issue2 that gives prominent coverage to Nobel laureates who are campaigning for Kerry.  It has nothing positive to say about Bush: just allegations, criticisms and the anger of certain scientists, with no opportunity for rebuttal.  It mentions nothing about Bush’s space initiatives for NASA or any other accomplishments.  Kerry, in contrast, is cast in an entirely positive light: for instance, “Already, science has taken an unusually high profile in the Kerry campaign.  Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, mentioned the Hubble Space Telescope and the Cassini mission to Saturn in her speech at the Democratic National Convention last week.”    Science has been a little more nonpartisan lately.  Last week it gave Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham3 an uncontested column on Bush’s Climate Policy, and this week, it presented a more balanced view of the election campaign as it pertains to science: David Malakoff4 presented both sides of the controversy over stem cell research.  Nevertheless, conservatives will find evidence of bias in certain statements, such as the prominence given to Matthew Nisbet (Ohio State) commenting on Kerry’s making stem cell research a campaign issue.  Malakoff quotes Nisbet: “’It allowed Kerry to highlight a major policy difference between the candidates on a health issue that is relevant to millions of Americans,’ he says.  ‘It also allowed him to reinforce reservations that undecided voters may already have about Bush being ‘an ideologue who doesn’t listen to experts who hold other views.’”  These charges are only weakly rebutted in Malakoff’s article.1Editorial, “On the campaign trail,” Nature 430, 593 (05 August 2004); doi:10.1038/430593a.2Geoff Brumfiel and Emma Marris, “Nobel laureates spearhead effort to put Kerry in the White House,” Nature 430, 595 (05 August 2004); doi:10.1038/430595a.3Spencer Abraham, “The Bush Administration’s Approach to Climate Change,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5684, 616-617, 30 July 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.1098630].4David Malakoff, “The Calculus of Making Stem Cells a Campaign Issue,” Science, Vol 305, Issue 5685, 760, 6 August 2004, [DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5685.760].We predicted last year that a survey would find academic scientists to be predominantly liberal Democrats (see 09/22/2003 editorial), and now we have evidence right from Nature’s editorial page: it says plainly, “In the current polarized political climate, it is hardly surprising that some scientists should swing behind Kerry in this way — the research community traditionally votes overwhelmingly Democratic.”  Let no one conclude that this means smart people vote Democrat.  These are the ones that brought us sunbathing fish evolving into humans, remember? (see 08/03/2004 headline).  No; rather, it means two things: the (1) Darwin Party that rules Big Science and the journals cannot tolerate anyone who believes in God and absolute moral standards, and (2) Big Science needs its entitlements to keep its Starving Storytellers welfare state going (see 12/22/2003 commentary).  From day one, Nature was a mouthpiece for Charlie Darwin’s musketeers (see 03/04/2004 commentary).  Since Darwin described himself as “liberal or radical” (see 02/13/2004 headline), it is not surprising his mouthpiece continues to be a propaganda machine for political liberalism as well as the moral relativism that fits leftist ideology and Darwinian theory like hand and glove (see 06/28/2004, 06/07/2004, 06/03/2004 and 05/17/2004 headlines, for instance).(Visited 9 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

SA backs Nigerian for World Bank chief

first_img23 March 2012 South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said his country fully supported Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s candidature for the position of next World Bank chief, as Nigeria, South Africa and Angola jointly announced her nomination on Friday. “We are very proud as Africa and certainly this constituency to confirm that the Minister of Finance of Nigeria is going to be a candidate for the president of the World Bank,” Gordhan said on Friday – the day nominations close in Washington for the top post of the international body. Gordhan was speaking in Pretoria ahead of a constituency meeting of the World Bank between South Africa, Angola and Nigeria.A candidate of choice ‘not just in Africa’ Okonjo-Iweala is serving a second term as Nigeria’s finance minister, and has worked in a senior post at the World Bank for several years. Gordhan described her as being “very experienced”, adding that she holds eminent academic qualifications. “She would be a candidate of choice not just on the African continent but well beyond as well,” Gordhan said. The constituency meeting between South Africa, Nigeria and Angola forms part of the world body’s three sub-Saharan constituencies out of a total of 25 constituencies. Gordhan’s meeting with Okonjo-Iweala and Angolan Planning Minister Ana Dias Lourenco began on Thursday.Call for transparent, merit-based selection Gordhan added that the G20 had made a decision that future processes for the selection of heads of international finance institutions like the World Bank needed to be open, transparent, democratic and merit-based. “We believe that the candidature of Minister Okonjo-Iweala enables those that are going to make this decision in Washington to have before them an eminently qualified individual who can balance the needs of both developed and, importantly, developing countries,” Gordhan said. Okonjo-Iweala would also “provide a new vision and sense of mission to the World Bank and its relevance, particularly to developing countries across the globe”. South Africa and Angola have committed themselves to mobilise support for the Nigerian minister through the various bodies to which they belong on the continent.South Africa to lobby for BRICS support The countries will garner support for her candidature at next week’s meeting of the continent’s finance ministers in Addis Ababa, as well as at the BRICS summit in India, where South Africa will encourage Brazil, Russia, India and China to support Okonjo-Iweala’s candidacy. The World Bank is expected to choose its next leader before its Spring meeting in late April. Asked about other nominated candidates, Gordhan said the US was expected to field a candidate later on Friday. “We’ve heard the name of a Columbian academic and former finance minister Jose Antonio Ocampo, and Prof Jeffrey Sachs has made himself available. There could well be last minute surprises that we are unaware of,” Gordhan said. Okonjo-Iweala said she hoped the contest she faced would be merit-based and that those nominated applied their best minds in the interviewing processes. “I hope that the best candidates come forward,” she said. “I consider the World Bank [as] a very important institution for the world, particularly developing countries deserving of the best leadership. I look forward to a contest of very strong candidates. Am I confident? Absolutely,” she said. Okonjo-Iweala said it would be premature for her to lay out her vision for the World Bank. The current president of the institution, Robert Zoellick, announced in February that he would step down at the end of June. Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Odisha rights panel seeks report on distress labour migration

first_imgA full Bench of the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) on Monday took suo motu cognizance of distress labour migration from the State and directed the Labour Secretary to file a comprehensive report on the issue by October 28.The full Bench of the OHRC, comprising chairperson Justice Bimala Prasad Das and members Justice Raghubar Dash and Asim Amitabh Dash, issued the directive as the State Labour and Employees’ State Insurance (LESI) department failed to submit a satisfactory action taken report in the past five years.In 2014, while adjudicating the case of Sushant Kumbar, the 12-year-old child labourer from Bolangir district who had sustained serious injury after being mercilessly beaten up by his employer in a brick kiln in Karnataka, then OHRC chairperson Justice B. K. Mishra and member B. K. Patnaik asked the State government to inform it about the measures taken to prevent distress labour migration and rehabilitate freed bonded labourers and their children.“The distress labour migration has assumed critical proportion in the State. Government welfare programmes have failed to prevent them from going to other States for work,” said Biswapriya Kanungo, human rights activist and petitioner in the Kumbar case.About 3 to 4 lakh people, including women and minor children, go to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala to work in brick kilns for paltry remuneration. It has been widely reported that they are subjected torture to extract maximum work from them.Thousands of poverty stricken people from Balangir, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Bargarh and Subarnapur districts take wage advance from labour middlemen in August and September. Around November and December, they go to brick kilns and other construction sites.To stop the distress migration, the government had announced rations under National Food Security Act from September. It was also proposed to increase employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme from 100 to 200 days. Moreover, it was under consideration to bring wage payment under MGNREGA at par with minimum wage of the State.According to a survey conducted by Tata Trusts, a voluntary organisation, last year about 38,000 people from 30 gram panchayats of Bolangir and Nuapada migrated to neighbouring States as they could not be provided jobs.last_img read more