STMA's suit to get Ghana Water Company to pay Property rates dismissed by court

"From the foregoing, it is not controversial to suggest that the combined effect of section 16 of Act 310 and section 2 (1) of Act 651 show that the Defendant is still exempted from payment of taxes."

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A High Court in Sekondi has dismissed a suit filed by the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly(STMA) against the Ghana Water Company.

According to the court, the defendant, Ghana Water, qualifies to be exempted from payment of property rates under Section 164(1) of Act 936.

The plaintiff averred that per the explicit provisions of the Local Governance Act 2016, (Act 936) and more specifically sections 141 and 146, the Ghana Water Company is not and has not been one of the institutions mentioned as being exempted from the payment of such rates.

The STMA thus instituted this action in May 2020 to among others, get a declaration that the Ghana Water Company is not exempted from the payment of property rates to the Assembly.

Also, it sought an order from the court to get Ghana Water to pay a total of GH¢242,412.16 the total assessed rate on its property which it had refused to pay for three years.

However, the defendant contended that it is a company set up under the Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation Act 1965, (Act 310) and that Act 310 expressly exempted Defendant from payment of taxes.

In its judgment, the court presided over by Justice Dr. Richmond Osei-Hwere initially made a finding that the Ghana Water Company is a creature of statute and that having originated as a public Corporation and by virtue of Act 651 and L.I. 1648, it continued to exist as a Statutory Limited Liability Company.

Also in the gravamen of the suit, which is whether the Ghana Water Company is exempted by law from paying property rates, the court agreed with counsel that even though Section 16 of Act 310 has not been extinguished and the same has been repealed by virtue of the Defendant company’s conversion, the Ghana Water Company by operation of law continues to enjoy its accrued rights under section 16 of Act 310.

The court then held that the Ghana Water Company qualifies to be exempt from payment of property rates under Sections 164(1) of Act 936 and thus dismissed the Assembly’s action.