The government’s decision to reintroduce road tolls in 2023 has been welcomed by the minority in Parliament.
The government canceled the collection of tolls on public roads in November 2021, following an announcement by the finance minister during his presentation of the 2022 budget.
A year after the announcement, the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, during the presentation of the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy on November 24, 2022, announced the return of road tolls on selected roads as part of the government’s revenue mobilisation measures.
Contributing to a debate on the budget in parliament on Wednesday, the Minority Spokesperson on Roads and Transport, Governs Kwame Abgodza, welcomed the reintroduction of tolls while describing their initial cancellation as populist.
“We welcome the decision by the Roads Minister to bring back road tolls. We take no pride in saying we told you so. Mr. Speaker, it was populist, unnecessary, and they were there shouting, we are going to do it because we have e-levy… today they have brought a law here that they want to bring back road toll.”
The minority, however, asked for revenues accrued from road tolls to be directed solely towards the maintenance of roads.
“If you bring the road toll back, all the accruals must go into road maintenance. Otherwise, we are not going to support you, that is why we say de-cap the road fund,” Governs Kwame Agbodza said on the floor of Parliament.
The minority in 2021 bemoaned the cancellation of road tolls, describing it as a policy that will lead to a massive loss in government revenue.
There were calls from several critics who called for government officials to be charged for causing financial loss to the state over the decision to suspend road tolls.
“Whoever took the decision to stop the road toll has caused financial loss to the state, whatever has been lost, he must be surcharged for it. …It wasn’t a prudent decision to take off the road toll,” an economist at the University of Ghana, Lor Mensah, said in an interview.
Meanwhile, Kwasi Amoako Atta, Minister of Roads and Highways, told parliament in March this year that the suspension of tolls caused no financial loss to the state.
“Mr Speaker, there are, in total, 38 toll booths across the country. There has been no loss of revenue to the Ministry of Roads and Highways since the cessation of the collection of the road tolls,” he told the House.
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