Levy on Petroleum products up
By A. Kofoya Tetteh & Joe Okyere
PARLIAMENT has approved increases in taxes and levies on petroleum products to raise more funds for road maintenance and rehabilitation. The approved levy is now ?230 per litre on premium petrol and gas oil. The previous levy was ?150 per litre.
Moving a motion for the approval of the increases yesterday, Mr. Moses Asaga, a Deputy Minister of Finance, said since levy on fuel is the major source of funds for road maintenance, it is expedient to increase it to generate more revenue for the maintenance of roads.
Presenting the Finance Committee?s report on the issue, its chairman Commodore Steve Obimpeh (rtd) said under the Highway Sector Investment Project, government undertook to increase the petroleum levy at a rate of one per cent per annum to generate monies for the Road Fund for periodic maintenance from 1996 to 2002. Commodore Obimpeh said the policy was implemented from 1996 to 1998 but could not be done in 1999 leading to the delay in the release of funds and stated that with the increases, the backlog of road maintenance would be carried out.
He also asked the Ministry of Roads and Transport to improve upon other sources of revenue for the fund such as road and bridge tolls as well as revenue from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority since petroleum levy accounts for 90 per cent of monies to the fund. Mr. Dominic Azimbe Azumah (NDC, Garu Tempane) and Mr. T. K. Yeboah (NDC, Dormaa West) supporting the motion called on the sector ministry to ensure that road contractors are promptly paid. Mr. Felix Owusu-Adjepong (NPP, Akim Swedru) wondered why approval for the increase was not sought last year whilst Mr. D.Y. Mensah (NDC, Atebubu North) said since good roads are necessary, there should not be any arguments against increasing the taxes which will make available more money for road maintenance. Sqn. Leader Clend Sowu (rtd) (NDC, Anlo) said the increase are in order and must be supported.
Mr David Lamptey (NDC, Klottey Korle) praised the government for rehabilitating roads in the country and said that with the increases, more money will be made available to continue with the good works of the government. Mr. C. O. Nyarnor (NPP, Upper Denkyira) in his contribution said the increases will affect local industries at a time government is encouraging them to produce more. The Minister of Roads and Transport, Mr. Edward Salia who was in the House to canvas support for the increases said the ministry is seriously monitoring the performance of road contractors to ensure that they perform well.
In a statement to commemorate the 21th anniversary of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Alhaji Amadu Ali (NDC, Atebubu South) praised Iran for her assistance to Ghana. Two other statements were made by Mr. Yaw Benin-Darko (NPP, Atiwa) and Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idriss (NPP, Sabondija). Mr. Baning-Darko called for a permanent bridge to be constructed on River Birim at Ekorso to replace the one which collapsed recently. Alhaji Idriss, on his part, requested the Ministry of the Interior and the Inspector General of Police to consider opening up additional police stations at Tamale to effectively combat crime. The report on the agreement between Ghana and Gallen Limited for the lease of the Presidential Jet and the 25th report of the Appointment Committee on presidential nomination for deputy ministerial appointment were laid before the House.
The Minister of Roads and Transport also answered questions from members about the state of roads in the country. Meanwhile, a 16-member delegation of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy led by its chairman, Mr. Thomas Yeboah, will from tomorror tour Togo, Benin and Nigeria to interact with its counterparts on the proposed West African Gas Pipeline.