AS SIERRATEL INVESTIGATION STARTS NEXT WEEK, THE GOVERNEMNT OWES IT OVER $10 MILLION
As the proposed investigation instructed by President Kabbah into the activities of one of the most lucrative but backward parastatals, Sierratel is expected to start next week, the government of Sierra Leone is indebted to the telecommunications outfit over $10 million, investigations mounted by Concord Times reveal.
Investigations reveal the debts of Sierratel are largely due to the non-payment of bills by government offices, including that of the President and some prominent individuals dating back to 2004 and beyond.
However, Concord Times investigation further unearthed cases of mismanagement and corruption by some company officials that have left office.
According to findings, the office of the President combined with that of his Vice have to pay Sierratel bills for IDD lines about two billion Leones.
The IDD lines in offices of government ministers and other government functionaries have incurred hefty amounts in the tune of hundreds of millions of Leones.
Sources at Sierratel maintain that with all these bills paid, the company will be able to meet its indebtedness to other mobile phone companies like CELTEL and Millicom that the former has to pay $9.4 million and $4. million respectively.
Sierratel's problems of debt collection and degeneration started since 2001. Some reports say some of the General Managers ran the company like their private property and fleeced the company thousands of dollars.
Other investigations by Concord Times reveal the company has not been able to sustain viable investments like the card phone system that would have brought meaningful revenue to the company in order to sustain it in competition with other mobile phone companies today. Sierratel failed to take the lead in mobile telecommunications despite the fact that they had the 'gateway' to the world initially as all other local phone companies had to go through their network before accessing the wider world.
Reports monitored at Sierratel say the current management has put in place a structure to help reduce their indebtedness.