By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Contrary to circulated news that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) agreed on a proposed minimum tariff increase, the Executive Director of the Native Consortium and Research Center (NCRC),Edmond Abu Junior, has unequivocally reaffirmed that CSOs never agreed to any proposed mobile tariff increase.
The Native Consortium boss outlined his positions following what he called a ‘stage-managed’ public dialogue forum.
He said only two or maybe three trifling CSOs were handpicked to sign that prewritten communiqué which he claimed didn’t in any way represent or reflect the seven Million Sierra Leonean population.
“These barefaced CSOs never did any pre-consultation with the wider national CSO community before penning their signatures. Therefore, we find those newspaper headlines as not only blackmailing, but misleading and deceptive,” he charged.
The NCRC boss also claimed that for the past weeks some media houses have been supporting tariff increment for obvious reasons, some of which are getting adverts and promotions.
“The Native Consortium wishes to categorically tell the public that the only two institutions doing consumer protection for over two decades now have been the NCRC, led by Edmond Abu (Jr), and Consumer Protection Agency, led by Mr. Kabia,” the Consortium charged.
The NCRC went on to state that what was organized at Country Lodge last Friday was not a Public Private Dialogue but a stage-managed game. The NCRC claimed that the CSOs who went there to distract Edmond Abu were making a mere joker because their voices are only limited to that room.
The Consortium therefore, urged the MNOs, NATCOM and all media houses supporting the authorities to do a nationwide public consultation and listen to the public voice instead of hand-picking just three CSOs and some section of the media to sign a ‘manipulated’ communiqué that they are totally clueless about.
The NCRC also put it to NATCOM that in as much it has the power to regulate tariffs it must not misuse such powers to hurt consumers, otherwise the Consortium will put up a stiff resistance against NATCOM.
“Our position based on the open letter written to the President remains the same. Any proposed marginal increment should be tied to quality of service as a precondition. The Consortium wants to strongly remind the Minister and NATCOM that the MNOs woefully fail to meet their own part of the contract in March 23, 2017,” Abu stated.
The Consortium urged that NATCOM should immediately discontinue the floor tariff, allow new mobile companies to enter into the market and stop giving anti-competitive advantage to existing MNOs.
“Whiles President Bio is crying for job creation and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the floor tariff only gives advantage to existing players, and it is a major barrier for any player. This makes some of us wonder if NATCOM actually understands the path of the President new Direction’s human capital Development drive”.
Native Consortium threw a staunch warning that NATCOM will be in contempt if they adjust any tariff without recourse and respect for the court case brought against NATCOM, ORANGE and AFRICELL by the NCRC and the 299 Consumers.