Novafone Goes to Court Over Denied Duty Free Privilege
Monrovia – One of Liberia’s mobile telecommunications service provider, Novafone has filed a petition before the Justice in Chamber of the Supreme Court, His Honor Philip A.Z. Banks, to grant the issuance of a writ of Mandamus and order the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to grant the company duty free privilege.
Novafone was bought a while ago by LoneStar-MTN, following a failed purchase from Libtelco which was spurned by the media.
The company noted that after the acquisition of Comium (Liberia) Incorporated, it applied for and was granted duty-free privilege by the Ministry of Finance on many occasions, but since the establishment of the Liberia Revenue Authority(LRA), the privilege has not been restored.
In its petition to the Chamber Justice, Novafone cited a case in point between August and November 2016, when it wrote the Commissioner General of the LRA, Mrs. Elfreida Stewart-Tamba requesting duty-free privilege for 78 Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles but Mrs. Tamba refused to grant the company’s request.
According to the petition, following the refusal of the LRA Commissioner General, the Minister of Justice invited the LRA boss and Novafone to an urgent meeting to discuss the company’s duty-free concerns but the meeting did not resolve the issue.
The situation consequently, led Novafone to pray the Justice in Chambers for a writ of Mandamus in keeping with chapter 16, subchapter B, section 16.21(2) of the Civil Procedure Law of Liberia. “…the Liberia Revenue Authority, respondent in this cause of action has continuously failed and refused to grant unto petitioner its entitled right to duty-free privilege thereby triggering this writ of Mandamus…” the petition concluded.
Meanwhile, the company in its petition disclosed that it purchased all the shares of Comium (Liberia) Incorporated and was issued a Share Transfer Deed consummating a share purchase agreement, thereby making it the sole owner of Comium (Liberia) Incorporated.
Additionally, the petition revealed that on November 21, 2012 it filed with the Liberia Business Register a second Amendment of the Article of Incorporation of Comium (Liberia) Incorporated which was subsequently registered and filed on the same day by the registry in keeping with section 1.4 of the Business Corporation act; thereby changing the name from Comium (Liberia) Incorporated to Novafone Incorporated.
At the same time, count four of the Novafone 12 counts petition contends that prior to the acquisition of Comium Liberia Incorporated, it entered into a Concession Agreement with the Republic of Liberia which provides among other things tax benefits.
“Comium shall be subject to the Tax law of Liberia of the general application except for the following exemptions with regards to the approved investment project: Machinery and equipment, the approved investment project shall be exempted from import duties on the dutiable value equipment including transport/mobile equipment and other specialized vehicle for a period of twenty calendar years commencing from the effective date of this contract with the option of an additional period of twenty years to commence immediately by the expiration of the certain period of twenty years shall be broken down into four-five years…” the petition added.
The situation consequently, led Novafone to pray the Justice in Chambers for a writ of Mandamus in keeping with chapter 16, subchapter B, section 16.21(2) of the civil procedure law of Liberia. “…the Liberia Revenue Authority, respondent in this cause of action has continuously failed and refused to grant unto petitioner its entitled right to duty-free privilege thereby triggering this writ of Mandamus…” the petition concluded.