Supreme Court Reserves Ruling In LTA & Orange Liberia Case
The Supreme Court of Liberia has reserved ruling in a case between Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) and Orange GSM Company on the imposition of surcharge tax in the telecommunications market.
Chief Justice Francis Korkpor announced in open court that judgment in the case will be done at a later date, but failed to state the actual time for the deliverance of the high court’s judgment.
Cllr. Jallah Barbu, lawyer of Orange GSM, during the argument told the Supreme Court that LTA’s imposition of a surcharge tax in the telecommunications market was a violation of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Cllr. Barbu argued that Article 34 of the Constitution gives exclusive prior or right to the National Legislature to impose taxes, and not the LTA.
He said the surcharge tax is an additional burden on the Orange Liberia company because they are already paying huge fees on net voices and data as well as operational cost.
Cllr. Barbu stated that currently LTA has provided to Orange GSM company two invoices for a huge amount of US$8 million as surcharge taxes.
According to him, the imposition of the US$8 million surcharge fees is intended to destroy the investment of the company and take it out of the telecommunications market.
Cllr. Barbu said in his argument that if LTA continues to levy heavy taxes on Orange GSM company the ordinary people will suffered and the economy will as well crumble.
He informed the court that the World Bank and other international organizations have negotiated with the Government of Liberia (GOL) to drop the surcharge tax but the LTA is still adamant in doing so.
Cllr. Barbu called on the Supreme Court to reject the decision of the LTA on the imposition of surcharge tax on Orange GSM company.
In resistance, Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi requested the court to deny Orange GSM company’s appeal and uphold the ruling from the Civil Law Court and order the enforcement of the judgment for the imposition of the surcharge in the telecommunications market.
Cllr. Massaquoi said the LTA imposition of the surcharge was in line with the act creating the commission.
He stated that the National Legislature gives the LTA the legal authority to impose taxes, fees and other fines; as such, the commission has not acted outside the authority given it.