Story: Yaw Takyi
The Minority in Parliament has called on the government to completely de-cap the Road Fund, allowing it to solely finance road projects and pay contractor debts.
According to the minority, it will support the reinstatement of road tolls only if the government accepts its suggestion.
It comes on the back of the proposed increase in rates following government’s decision to reintroduce road tolls after abolishing the collection in 2021.
The Earmarked Funds Capping and Realignment Act, 2017 (Act 947) of the constitution gives the finance minister the authority to commit a portion of road tolls to the Road Fund managed by the Ministry of Roads and Highways and use the remainder for other purposes.
Governs Kwame Agbodza, the Minority Chief Whip and a Ranking Member of Parliament’s Roads and Transport Committee, told Citi News that it will only accept the government’s decision to reintroduce road tolls if it is willing to de-cap the tolls.
“The only way the Minority will be interested in this discussion at all, is to get an assurance that the road fund will totally be de-capped so that the numerous contractors who have worked and whose certificates are lying in the Ministry and other agencies will have the ability to get their monies paid to them so that they can be back to site to fix roads. We are not going to support government to bring the toll back if it will only bring GHS 2.4 billion and then only GH¢1 billion is used for roads and the remainder used for the National Cathedral, we will not be part of this.”
Meanwhile, Chairman of Parliament’s Roads and Highways Committee in Parliament, Kennedy Osei Nyarko wants road tolls pegged at GH¢5.
Kennedy Osei Nyarko believes that setting the toll at GH¢5 will help the government generate more revenue for the country.
He was speaking to journalists about the government’s proposed reintroduction of road tolls and said only that amount of money will be considered as the toll rate.
“After suspending the road tolls for more than a year, why do we just add 50 pesewas to it? As the Roads Committee Chair, I will not support anything less than GH¢5. I am doing that based on the average road toll in the subregion and globally which is $1.”
The government has revised the schedules of the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2022, (Act 1080).
The amendments are in line with the government’s intention to restart collecting tolls on some roads pending the completion of the steps to identify the roads and highways to be affected by the reintroduction of the tolls.
To this end, the Ministry of Finance has commenced the procedures, necessary to determine the toll foundation rates while the Ministry of Roads and Highways considers them.
The proposed rates have witnessed an average increase of 88 percent from the previous charges.
The Finance Ministry in a statement said, “we are by this letter sending the recommended rates for input by the Ministry of Roads and Highways to enable this Ministry to finalize the schedule of fees under the upcoming Legislative Instrument”.
The Minority in parliament had been advocating for the reintroduction of road tolls arguing that the cessation was not financially sustainable, especially since the government is struggling to raise revenue.