The government is taking steps to reintroduce road and bridge tolls to shore up domestic revenue.
The reintroduction will also come with an upward adjustment in the tolls by an average of 88.5 per cent, including outliers of 400 per cent, the highest percentage increase, and 33.33 per cent, the lowest increment.
Already, the Ministry of Finance has made a proposal on the new rates to include in a new Legislative Instrument (LI) to amend the Fees and Charges (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2022, (Act 1080).
The memorandum from the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, dated March 10, is seeking the input of the Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Atta, on the proposed new rates — that cars paying 50Gp must pay GH¢1 under the amended LI, while pick-ups, light duty trucks and mammy wagons must now pay GH¢1.50, up from the previous GH¢1.
Heavy buses and light goods trucks will now move away from paying GH¢1.50 to paying GH¢2, while medium goods trucks (three axles) and heavy duty goods trucks (four axles) will now pay GH¢3, from the GH¢2 they were paying before the collection of tolls on major highways and bridges was abolished.
Other proposed increments are heavy goods trucks which are five axles or more will now pay GH¢3.50, up from GH¢2.50, while motorbikes will now pay 50Gp, up from 10Gp, with agricultural tractors, with or without trailers, paying GH¢1, up from 50Gp.
Mr Ofori-Atta cited Section Six of Act 1080, which enjoins the minister to amend the schedules of the act to include or exclude ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and/or adjust the fees and charges collected by MDAs for their services through an LI, when necessary.
“Accordingly, this ministry has initiated steps to provide for foundational rates for the tolling of roads and highways as part of the amendment of the act, pending the completion of a process to identity the roads and highways to be affected by the reintroduction of the road tolls, as stated in the budget,” the memorandum said.
“We are by this letter conveying the proposed rates, as per the attached Appendix One, for input by the Ministry of Roads and Highways to enable the ministry to complete the schedule of fees under the pending LI,” the memorandum from the Finance Ministry, which the Daily Graphic has sighted, said.
The new development comes two years after the Ministry of Roads and Highways directed the cessation of toll collection across the country.
The government abolished the collection of all road and bridge tolls, effective November 18, 2021.
It was to remove some of the fees and charges the public paid to court support for the introduction of the new Electronic Transfer Levy (E-Levy).
The scrapping of toll collection was met with controversy, with some people arguing that the move would decrease domestic revenue.
The 2023 Budget stated in Paragraph 462, under Resource Mobilisation Programme of the Ministry of Finance, that the toll charges on public roads were removed as part of supportive policy measures under the 2022 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government.
However, it said, the fiscal policy measures to underpin the 2023 Budget for consideration and approval by Parliament included the reintroduction of tolls on selected public roads and highways, with a renewed focus on leveraging technology in the collection to address the inefficiencies characterised by the previous toll collection regime.
The government has ramped up its domestic revenue collection measures following debt overhung that has forced it to resort to a bailout from the International Monetary Fund.
It has already rolled out a domestic debt exchange programme, in which it invited old bonds which had higher yields for new ones which had lower yields and longer tenors.
It is in the process of renegotiating its external debts, including those from bilateral sources.
When contacted, an ardent supporter of efficient road tolls, Prof. Peter Quartey, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the move by the government was welcoming, after months of urging the reintroduction of tolls, as it would help shore up revenue.
He said the move must, however, encourage private participation in the management of the tollbooths, especially by the application of technology in the collection of tolls.
Prof. Quartey recommended to the government to bring on board some banks to renovate some of the booths which were deteriorating and also introduce digital applications to the collection of tolls.
“The tollbooths will pay for their rehabilitation and still generate revenue for the government if we remove the human interface and introduce digital means of collection,” he said.
“I believe that if the banks get involved and invest in it, they will bring on board their digital systems to ensure efficiency, as they have done with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority and others,” Prof. Quartey said.