Akufo-Addo must advise his ministers to respect Parliament
The Roads Minister’s move to unilaterally scrap road tolls is being defended
North Tongu MP insists their posture undermines Parliament and the Speaker
North Tongu Member of Parliament, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has called in President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to advise his Ministers to respect the due process as entails respect for the house of Parliament.
A number of New Patriotic Party, NPP, MPs have challenged Speaker Alban Bagbin over a directive to the Roads and Highways Minister to withdraw a directive suspending collection of tolls nationwide.
Kwasi Amoako-Atta issued a directive suspending toll collection effective midnight of November 18, hours after the Finance Minister had mentioned in the 2022 budget that tolls were to be scrapped.
The Minority leader raised the issue of the Minister acting on a yet to be approved budget which the Speaker agreed with and ordered a reversal but a number of NPP MPs explained that the Minister did so to avert confusion between toll collectors and motorists who misunderstood the Minister’s words.
For Okudzeto Ablakwa, that excuse is lame because there is no record of any such altercation as contained in a statement by the Ministry. He also cited a Hansard on Parliament from 21 years ago in which then-MP Akufo-Addo expressed displeasure over a similar issue.
According to Ablakwa, the Hansard of 16th February 2000, was in response to a situation where the then-Finance Minister engaged outside Article 181 (5). He read from column 168 (2):
“Mr Speaker we have to express our displeasure about how the powers of this house have been subverted, we are talking about the powers of this house, we are talking about the prerogative of parliament and those prerogatives subsist and continue no matter who is temporarily occupying the seat of government.”
He continued: “The president should advise his ministers, he took that same position that the Speaker of Parliament has taken, that the Honourable Leader of the NDC Caucus has expressed,” he said on Joy FM’s Top Story programme last Friday.
Road tolls scrapped
“Government has abolished all tolls on public roads and bridges. This takes effect immediately the Budget is approved,” Ken Ofori-Atta hinted while reading the 2022 budget statement in Parliament.
He added, “Over the years, the tolling points have become unhealthy market centres, led to heavy traffic on our roads, lengthened travel time from one place to another, and impacted negatively on productivity.
“The congestion generated at the tolling points, besides creating these inconveniences, also leads to pollution in and around those vicinities.”
The Finance Minister stressed that, “a portion of the proceeds from the E-Levy will be used to support entrepreneurship, youth employment, cyber security, digital and road infrastructure among others.”