9 August 2018

Liberia - Srimex, Aminata Withdraw 'Road Fund' Lawsuit Against Government

Monrovia — Two local petroleum companies have dropped a writ of prohibition filed against the Government of Liberia over the collection of storage fees intended to fund road projects in the country.

The withdrawal of the lawsuit by Srimex Oil and Gas Company and that of the Aminata &Sons Inc was contained in a judgment of the Supreme Court handed down on Tuesday, August 7, the day the Supreme Court adjourns its March 2018 Term.

Srimex, represented by its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Musa Bility, and Aminata &Sons and Petro-Trade, represented also by its CEOs Emmanuel Togbah and Abraham Kaydea filed the writ of the prohibition.

The petroleum companies named the Government of Liberia represented by the Ministries of Justice, Finance, Public Works, the Liberia Revenue Authority and that of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC).

Srimex's lawyer Cllr. Emmanuel James first told the court that Srimex has a facility at the Freeport where it stores petroleum products for US$0.50 per gallon instead government decided to deduct US$0.25 out of the US$0.50 with the intent for road maintenance in the country.

"Your honors, we have our storage facility we should have been the one to determine what to give out to the government this is why we are calling for the writ of prohibition," said Cllr. James.

Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, who also represented the Aminata and Sons Inc, argued that government had deducted US$0.25 out of every pump price of a gallon from its sale with the aim that the money is intended for the maintenance of roads in the country.

Aminata's lawyer Sannoh also told the court that it was only the company that was paying the said amount while other importers rejected making the payment to the government.

"Your honours we are not against the collection of this money what we need is for the government to open a special account for us to know where the money is going," he said Cllr. Sannoh, who prayed the high court for a writ prohibition on the collection for the fees for the lack of accountability.

Solicitor General Cllr. Daku Mulbah in a counter argument prayed the high court not to issue the writ of prohibition to stop government from collecting the funds as it is intended for development purposes, adding that it was mandatory for the companies involved in the process to pay the stipulated amount for development purpose.

In its judgment Tuesday, August 7, read by Supreme Court Clerk Atty. Sam Mamalu, indicated that prior to the argument in the case there have been series of discussions held between the parties aimed at amicably resolving the contending issues void of judicial determination.

According to the high court clerk, the parties agreed that co-petitioner Srimex withdraws with prejudice its petition for the writ of prohibition filed before the Supreme Court.

"That upon the approval of the agreement of voluntary discontinuance and the filling of same, the Clerk of the Supreme Court upon the order of court shall proceed to have stricken from the docket of the Supreme Court the prohibition proceedings out of which this agreement for voluntary discontinuance grows," the high court judgment read.

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