Deputy Finance Minister, John Kumah

Deputy Finance Minister, John Kumah has justified the Ministry of Roads and Highways’ directive for suspension of collection of toll.

Adding his voice to the ongoing debate, Dr. Kumah, while interacting with the press on Friday, stated that the collection of road toll has been inefficient, worsened the hardship faced by poor Ghanaians and has retarded productivity, thus its suspension while Parliament prepares to approve its abolishment, effective next year.

According to the Deputy Finance Minister, government was able to generate only ₵78million from the road tolls this year.

This he said has resulted in government’s alternative, that is the E-levy, projected to give government ₵6.9billion a year – an amount to be used to improve Ghana’s road infrastructure among others.

“Some people have questioned, ‘why are you removing the road toll’. We found road toll inequitable, inefficient and impeding productivity. These are the three reasons we decided (to suspend it). When we say it is inequitable, we mean that if you come to the plush areas in Accra, do you see any road toll here but check the kind of property we have here. They don’t pay road toll but if you go to Kasoa, come and go 20 times, you pay road toll. Multiply it and that is how much the poor people pay.

“The rich were enjoying from the road toll and the poor were paying more. So we thought it should be scrapped and put it on something that can cover everybody. The whole year, Ghana was getting 78million Ghana cedis from road toll,” he said.

The directive, which took effect on Thursday, November 18, has been opposed by Speaker Alban Bagbin, who has ordered Roads Minister Kwasi Amoako-Attah to withdraw his statement after Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu raised the matter on the floor of the House on Thursday.

According to the Speaker, the sector Minister lacks the legal mandate as government’s decision to abolish the collection of road tolls as indicated in the Budget 2022 presented by the Finance Minister has not been passed into law.

“It is a proposal they are presenting to us to approve to take effect January, 2022. And so until this budget is approved, all that is contained in the budget are proposals. We have the authority to approve.

The Executive on their own cannot suspend the implementation of that law. That is not democracy. I want to clearly direct that what the Minister (of Roads) has released has no effect. I call him to withdraw that directive,” he stated.

Reacting to the Speaker’s directive today, Dr Kumah said the Roads Minister cannot be faulted since he acted in accordance with law.

“All tolling points have already been removed. The Road Minister in his capacity and under the authority of the tolls Act, 1973, NRCD 153 and the 1992 Constitution, Article 297 (D), gives the Roads Minister the power to make such administrative decisions.”

He added that, “the Roads Minister did not repeal the law, he took an administrative decision to suspend the collection of road toll. He will follow up in Parliament if he wants to revoke the law.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Roads and Highways has clarified its earlier statement regarding the payment of road toll.

The Ministry’s Public Affairs Unit in its press statement dated November 18, revealed that the directive issued for the cessation of road toll was to suspend the operationalisation of the toll and not the law as understood by members of the Minority and the Speaker.

The release added that, “the Ministry is aware of Parliament’s role in the imposition of taxes and the fixing of levies and charges and in the fullness of time, the appropriate thing would be done.”

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