Orange Liberia Reportedly Preparing to Fight Recent Supreme Court Ruling on Payment of Revenues to Govt, Despite Making Millions
Monrovia – In a landmark ruling last month, the Supreme Court of Liberia dealt a major blow to Orange Liberia, declaring in a judgment that the sector’s regulator, the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) did not usurp the function of the Legislature when it published the imposition of surcharges on each minute of voice call and on each megabyte of internet data.
One month later however, Orange appears to be balking on implementing the court’s ruling.
This week, the cellular giant sent out notices that it will increase data and voice bundles on Oct 5, as a result of surcharge imposed by LTA, which after series of court challenges the Supreme Court has ruled constitutional.
The message read: “Orange Liberia informs all its customers that it will place an “additional cost” (surcharge) in the amount of $0.008 for each minute of on-net voice and US$0.00065 for each megabyte of data in compliance with the LTA order: 0016-02-25 issued by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority on February 25, 2019. As from Monday 5th October 2020 offers shall be amended gradually going forward. Signed: Management, Orange Liberia Inc.”
The decision by Orange is rattling feathers in the sector and the government which expressed a willingness to work along with the cellular operators on a payment regime.
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity Sunday took the company to task on its message sent out to consumers. “This is deceptive because as a result of this very LTA order, Orange eliminated three-day free calls last year September and blamed the LTA order for that. FPA has obtained industry analysis which shows that MTN and ORANGE made a combined 104 million as a result of implementing the same LTA Order. The surcharge portion is 22 million which they are refusing to pay.”
Government insiders see the move as another attempt to put the people against the government.
In June, Mr. Mamadou Coulibaly, the company’s Chief Executive Officer was invited to the offices of the National Security Agency to answer to charges of his suspected involvement in the June 25 riot and violence which led to the setting up of road blocks and burning tires to barricade the Tubman Boulevard near the Old Road junction.
In a news release following the incident, Coulibaly averred that the proposed increase in floor price of data and voice calls will jeopardize their investments and continuity of their business enterprise in Liberia.
The company went on to assure the public that it stands by its policy of non-involvement in politics as it is the main rule of conduct within the Group worldwide. Under no circumstances does Orange support politics nor has the company or any of its executives been involved in political actions directly or indirectly.
As regards to the issue of the imposition of Surcharges to current tariffs, and as Orange Liberia’s shareholder, Orange Group has analyzed the impact of the Surcharges of the LTA Order 0016- 02-25-19 and concluded that these additional Surcharges imposed to GSM operators are jeopardizing their investments and their business continuity in Liberia.
Since the incident, Coulibaly has been out of Liberia, reportedly running the company from his base in the Ivory Coast.
Orange is a French Company with Ivorian interest. MTN is a South African Company which reported 11 per cent growth in revenue in the first quarter and 9 per cent growth in revenue in the second quarter.
FrontPageAfrica has been informed that in spite of the ruling, Orange Liberia is again putting up a defiant posture against paying government just revenue and is preparing another court challenge to delay payment.
Lawyers for the LTA are reportedly preparing to resist and call for contempt of Orange and sanctions against its lawyers. In the recent Court ruling, the Supreme Court warned Orange and its lawyers against strange legal practices.
The money owed to the GOL is only 20% of what Orange and Lonestar will remit to Ivory Coast and South Africa.