April 25, 2019
By Jariatu S. Bangura
Chief Executive Officer of Orange Sierra Leone, Aminata Kane Ndiaye, has called on Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communications to reduce taxes levied on them by the National Revenue Authority (NRA).
Speaking during a visit by the committee at their IMAAT Head Office, Madam Ndiaye said they have met with officials of NRA, together with members of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance to address the issue, but that it was yet to be resolved.
“We are losing money every year and we will not be able to sustain that in the future. We really need your support. Last year, we were able to cope with the help of DSTV, which gave us a discount. If the situation continues to remain as it is, we will not be able to continue business. Since last year, we have been engaging stakeholders to address the issue, but we are still on it. A lot more revenue will be generated by the government only when taxes are reduced,” she said.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Information and Communications, who is also the Deputy Leader of Government Business, Hon. Mathew Sahr Nyuma, said they were happy with the operations of Orange Telecom Sierra Leone and that they would continue to shower praise on them for the services they are providing to the nation.
He said they were at Orange office to perform one of their duties as stated in the 1991 Constitution- to ensure that private sectors operating and delivering services to the people do it with utmost quality.
He however raised serious concern about 419ers using orange Sim cards to defraud innocent people, noting that he and many of his colleagues were victims, thus calling on the company to make sure they take possible steps to stop those people using their facility illegally.
He urged the company to motivate the local staff especially those that have worked with them for a very long time, and make sure they are promoted into high management position.
In her presentation, Head of Legal and Company’s Secretary, Haffie Hafner, said since 2016 Orange has invested about $55 million United States Dollars on new sites at Rollot.
She said they rolled out 45 new sites in 2017 and rolled out 42 in 2018, adding that they modernized 250 sites across the country that connected 925 localities, coupled with thousands of Sierra Leoneans accessing data and voice services for the first time.
She said they were also going to roll out another 55 new sites in 2019, stating that last month they successfully launched their 4G service on 60 sites and that plans were underway for 20 more sites on the 4G technology by June 2019.
She said as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility, they adopted 50 Ebola Orphans (Kids) nationwide in three SOS Villages, with 3 years commitment worth 300 million Leones yearly.
She said in 2018 they rehabilitated one Orthopedic and Pediatric Surgical (Operating) Theatres at Connaught hospital, using twenty thousand Euros.
She added that they also provided Ramadan Iftar and donated to mosques and underprivileged, disables and homeless people across the country.
She maintained that they have pledged USD1.5 million worth of material assistance in support of the government’s Free Quality Education initiative.
On the issue of sim box fraud, she stated that they were glad that the government through the National Telecommunication (NATCOM) was handling the issue as they were also suffering from the same problem.
She noted that the price regulation is stiff because NATCOM has been given the mandate by its Act to regularize it, but pleaded that a review be made on that section.
She said the NRA was taxing them to pay Goods and Services Tax GST for their free promotions including free calls and orange money transactions, a development she said continues to make things difficult for the company.
She also called on the MPs to look at the regulation that says they should be paying for license fees in United States Dollars, which according to her, was not promoting the local content policy of Sierra Leone, noting that they were disadvantaged because the exchange rate keeps increasing on a daily basis.
She called on MPs to re-introduce the Private Public Partnership model that has been stalled, as it would help the government generate revenue.
“Since government took over SALCAB, we have been paying huge money as we are no longer part of the board. They meet without our knowledge. We are pleading that we go back to the PPP model as it will be good. SALCAB did not reduce the price for the capacity customers are using but rather they are paying double for the capacity at the same time hence causing high rate on data usage and calls made. We have had several complaints from the public on that,” she noted.