Justice Wolokollie Denies Orange Liberia’s Quest for Prohibition on Surcharges
MONROVIA – Supreme Court Associate Justice Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie has declined to grant Orange Liberia a Writ of Prohibition on the surcharge on voice call and mobile data bundle as the GSM Company remains adamant on adhering to the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) regulation.
Though the GSM Company, having lost an initial petition filed with the lower court and was awaiting a hearing into the appeal filed with the Supreme Court, Orange filed for another Writ of Prohibition upon receiving an invoice from LTA as the implementation of the surcharge took effect in March this year.
The surcharge of US$0.008 for each minute of voice call and US$0,0065 for each megabyte of data was expected to take effect March this year – six months after the cancellation of the famous three days ‘free call’ and the introduction of a new floor pricing system.
The LTA maintains that the cancellation of the US$1 for three-day ‘free’ call was cancelled in order to make the GSM market more vibrant, eliminate dominance and restore competition in the sector. The promo which had run for over three years was also affecting government’s revenue generation in the sector.
Industry experts say both GSM Companies operating in Liberia experienced an astronomical increase in revenue since the new LTA regulation came into effect.
The companies are projected to accumulate over one hundred million by the end of the COVID period. MTN already reported a jump of 11 percent increase just at the beginning of COVID. Despite the high rise in revenue, Orange GSM insists that it cannot honor the bill from the LTA for the payment of the surcharge. The GSM Company argued that it cannot pay what it has not collected.
This, the government has seen as an unrealistic argument and an attempt from the GSM Companies to deny government its just revenue.
Further in its stance not to honor the invoice from the LTA, Orange sought the Writ of Prohibition from the Supreme Court on the implementation of the surcharge but was denied by the Justice in Chamber, Her Honor Justice Wolokolie who said the matter is already pending before the Bench.
Justice Wolokollie declined to entertain the matter because the matter is presently before the full bench and one justice cannot act, however, she admonished the parties to pursue the appeal.