The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has directed the Minister for Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Atta, to withdraw his directive for the immediate cessation of the collection of tolls on public roads.
The directive was issued by the Speaker after a press release from the Ministry calling for the immediate cessation of collection of tolls was raised as an urgent matter by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, on the floor of Parliament on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
Following a debate on the subject, the speaker, Alban Bagbin, said the instruction by the Minister was illegal and must be immediately withdrawn.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.
He said until then, the Minister had no right or legal basis to issue directives for road tolls, which are a source of government revenue approved by Parliament to be stopped.
“It is a proposal they [government] are presenting to us for us to approve, and it takes effect on January 1, 2022, to December 31, 2022… Until this budget is approved, all what is contained in the budget are proposals. We have the authority to approve it… Until that has been approved, nobody has the authority to start implementing something that does not exist,” he said.
Alban Bagbin described as disrespectful the unilateral decision of the Minister, saying that he may have made such a move due to his misunderstanding of the law but is required to immediately reverse his directive.
“That amounts to a disrespect of the house. The Minister might have misunderstood or misapplied the law, and so it is for us to draw his attention and tell him that he has no such authority. The law we have now has imposed the fees that we have been collecting. I want to clearly direct that what the Minister has released is completely empty boast. It is proper for us to direct the Minister, a senior member of this house who is used to all this…..to honourably withdraw this directive.”
Alban Bagbin warned that the failure of the Minister to heed the order would put him in contempt of Parliament.
“Failure to do so well be a serious breach of the directives of the Speaker and that could amount to contempt of Parliament,” he said.