The Proposed road toll increment being championed by the Association of Road Contractors (ARC) is already facing some form of resistance by a group calling itself the Taxpayers’ Alliance Ghana.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance Ghana said they are “opposed to any form of increase in taxes and levies considering the economic hardships that the Ghanaian taxpayer is going through, the high cost of doing business coupled with the current energy crisis.”
The group noted that government had failed to use the accrued fund for the intended road maintenance but was rather using the money to construct new roads, which they said is against the purpose of setting up the fund.
Speaking in an interview with the DAILY HERITAGE yesterday, Executive Secretary of the Group, Frank Asiedu Bekoe noted that government should go to Parliament for approval if they want to tax the citizenry for construction of new roads.
Mr. Bekoe charged government to render an account to Parliament on the usage of the road fund before thinking of burdening the taxpayer with increments.
He said government should broaden its horizon and find innovative ways of generating more revenue instead of the consistent increase in taxes.
According to him, the group shall engage stakeholders to ensure that government does not increase any road toll to further burden the taxpayer.
The resistance to the proposed road toll increment comes on the back of calls by the ARC for government to increase fuel levy and road tolls to raise more funds to finance road construction in the country.
Joseph Ebo Hewton, national chairman of the ARC noted the government could rake additional US$500 million yearly into the Road Fund if the fuel levy and road tolls were reviewed upwards.
Mr. Hewton said Tanzania last year raised $483 million dollars from fuel, road toll levy and Ghana could raise more than that amount due to increase in road traffic in the country.
The national chairman called for more than a one hundred per cent hike in the fuel levy from the current GH0.07p to GH0.28p.
Currently, he said, government owed road contractors across the country GH¢200.00 million due to the financial challenges facing the economy.
In addition, he said, government also owed contractors on cocoa roads GH¢100.00 million and appealed to government to settle the debts as “soon as possible” to enable contractors to return to work on those projects.
Mr. Hewton said the non-payment of such arrears to contractors was killing the road construction industry and collapsing the businesses of the players in the sector.
According to Mr Hewton, the delay in paying for road contracts was responsible for the shoddy road works in the country.
“Road construction is not like building a house where you can continue at any time. When an uncompleted road project delays, the road deteriorates and the cost increases, which makes the contractor not to deliver quality work,” he said.
“Road contractors borrow from banks to pre-finance road contracts awarded them on cocoa roads, and the government is owing contractors GH¢100 million”, he stated.
The Minister for Roads and Highways, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini on his part said details on the increase levels are being worked out for implementation next year.
“We are going to increase the tolls. As for the tolls we have even worked with the ministry of finance and in due course you will hear that,” Alhaji Fusieni affirmed.
He said presently road tolls contribute about 10 per cent to the road fund and this was insufficient considering the quantum of maintenance work that is to be carried out.
The levy is a component of the NRF, which is a dedicated fund for road maintenance created through an Act of Parliament, Act 537(1997).
In addition, plans are far advanced to automate the road tolling system as a measure to plug leakages in the toll collections.
Source: Daily Heritage
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