Ghana Politics

Gov’t admits challenges with cessation of road tolls amid struggles to pass E-levy

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Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has acknowledged that halting the collection of road tolls has thwarted government’s revenue generation.

He says the decision which was hastily taken in anticipation of the passage of the E-levy has now become a grave problem and the government is having difficulties dealing with it.

“The challenge really is, we passed the appropriation very quickly because there was an absolute belief in the direction that we were going, and then the politics came to stall the issue of the revenue measure which is E-levy, and therefore, the issue of the tolls being disbanded has become a chain around our necks.”

Mr. Ofori-Atta said this at the E-levy town hall meeting held in the Volta Region on Friday.

The situation, the Minister also admits, is affecting Ghana’s access to the international market.

“I am telling you that, because of what we are doing, now our access to the international market is being curtailed to a certain degree. Now, even when we go, we are going to pay US$500 million over 10 years if I were to issue a billion cedi paper and that is significant and cannot be allowed”, Mr. Ofori-Atta further added.

The Ministry of Roads and Highways directed the discontinuation of the collection of tolls on all public roads and bridges across the country from Thursday, November 18, 2021.

The directive followed the announcement by the Finance Ministry of the scrapping of tolls on all public roads from 2022.

The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, subsequently directed the Roads Minister to reverse that directive, insisting it was illegal and must be immediately withdrawn.

He argued that although the cessation of tolls on public roads was announced in the 2022 budget, it remains a proposal until Parliament approves it.

However, the directive was not heeded by the minister.

Forget E-levy, bring back road tolls
The Ranking Member of Parliament’s Roads and Transport Committee, Governs Kwame Agbodza, is pushing for the reintroduction of road tolls.

Mr. Agbodza argued that the move is not financially sustainable, especially when government is struggling to raise revenue.

“What the government should have done was to prove that they are utilizing the resources appropriately, not to say that they are only going to collect the road tolls.”

He urged the Roads Minister to order the toll collectors back to post “so that we can continue to generate revenue from there, instead of introducing other taxes such as E-Levy.”

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