Abdul Kuyateh, public affairs manager at Sierra Leone’s National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM), has said that the country’s GSM operators have increased the price of top-up cards without the approval of the commission, Concord Times reports. The move is in violation of the Telecommunications Act 2006, which gives regulator NATCOM the sole authority to sanction any increase in the price of recharge cards, 30 days after an operator has notified it in writing. According to Kuyateh, the board of NATCOM will soon meet to discuss the issue. ‘The price for top-up cards remains the same as far as NATCOM is concerned as this increment has not been sanctioned by the commission. It is unacceptable and we are urging GSM operators to stop taking the law into their own hands, as NATCOM has the power to withdraw their licences,’ he noted.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, an agreement was reached between NATCOM and GSM cellcos Zain Sierra Leone (now known as Airtel), Lintel SL (Africell SL) and Comium SL in early 2010 to increase the price of top-up cards by 6% to the current rate of SLL3,600 (USD0.84) per 100 units, effective from 29 January 2010. The move was a response to the introduction of a new Goods and Services Tax (GST) tax on 1 January 2010, which led to confusion about pricing and subsequent shortages of calling cards.