The Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin has directed the Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako Atta to reverse the decision to stop road toll payments in the country.
The Speaker said in Parliament on Thursday, November 18 that the Minister who is also Member of Parliament for Atiwa West acted wrongly by issuing that command.
“I think that it is proper for us to direct the minister, a member of this house, in fact, a senior member of this house, I think that he might have acted wrongly and therefore I call him to reverse this decision,” he ordered.
Mr Kwasi Amoako-Atta, on Wednesday, November 17 directed the cessation of collection of tolls on public roads and bridges effective Thursday, November 18 after Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta had announced in the 2022 budget statement the cancellation of the tolls.
A press release issued a few hours after the announcement by the Minister of Finance, said the directive will take effect from 12:00 am Thursday.
“Motorists are kindly advised to approach the locations with caution and observe all safety measures that will be put in place,” the press release said.
But during deliberations on the floor of the House on Thursday, Minority leader Haruna Iddrisu questioned the powers that the Minister relied on to issue this directive when the budget had not been approved by Parliament.
Supporting Mr Iddrisu submission was the lawmaker for Adaklu, Kwame Agbodza.
Mr Agbodza said “It is quite clear that the Minister sidestepped parliament by pretending that he as a minister, not even the finance minister, has the right to waive taxes in this country. My senior colleague the road minister is a lawyer and a very experienced one.
I submit that this action is not a mere action.
“To make it quite serious, on Tuesday Mr Speaker, your Committee on Roads and Transport met and invited the minister of roads and transport to work on a referral which is to build the road between Manfe and Koforidua.
At that meeting, I asked the Ministry representative where the minister was . The response they gave me was the Minister was on an official trip with the president.
The Minister should have known that he has no such powers.
In any case, he was not in the jurisdiction. So Mr Speaker, we want you to direct that the Minister has no such powers to waive the payment of charges in this country except Parliament. Mr Speaker direct that the Minister rescind his decision, if he so wishes he should present that to parliament.”
For his part, Member of Parliament for Abuakwa South, Samuel Atta Akyea defended the Minister saying he did not disrespect Parliament and the laws by issuing that order when the budget had not been approved.
He said “Even in the Supreme Court, with the greatest of respect Mr Speaker, sometimes there is a misreading of the law which does not amount to the fact that the law lords are disrespecting the law.
So at such a time that we made that distinction, we cannot attribute to the honourable Minister for Roads and Highways he is disrespecting the law.”
He added, “Probably, with the greatest of respect, this could be an administrative error which should not be, It happens.”