The Finance Minister yesterday announced that government has abolished all tolls on public roads and bridges.
He said the move, was to reduce environmental pollution and facilitate movement of goods and services.
“The expected impact on productivity and reduced environmental pollution will more than off-set the revenue forgone by removing the tolls,” he said when he delivered the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of Government dubbed “Agyenkwa Budget(The saviour budget)”.
The 2022 budget is on the theme “Building a Sustainable Entrepreneurial Nation: Fiscal Consolidation and Job Creation.”
For more than three hours, the Finance Minister outlined measures to prop up the economy and create jobs for the youth.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the cancellation of the road tolls would take effect after the budget was approved by Parliament.
He disclosed that the personnel working at the various road tolls would be re-assigned, adding that “The expected impact on productivity and reduced environmental pollution will more than off-set the revenue forgone by removing the tolls.”
The Minister said though the road tolls were a veritable source raising revenue to fix the country’s roads, the road tolls had become a nuisance to motorists impeding movement of goods and people.
“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,” he said.
The Finance Minister disclosed that after considerable deliberations, government had decided to place a levy on all electronic transactions to widen the tax net and rope in the informal sector under the “Electronic Transaction Levy or E-Levy.”
He said the electronic transactions covering mobile money payments, bank transfers, merchant payments and inward remittances would be charged at an applicable rate of 1.75 per cent which shall be borne by the sender except inward remittances, which will be borne by the recipient.
“Mr Speaker, to safeguard efforts being made to enhance financial inclusion and protect the vulnerable, all transactions that add up to GH¢100 or less per day (which is approximately GH¢3000 per month) will be exempt from this levy,” Mr Ofori-Atta, said.
He said a portion of the proceeds from the E-Levy, among others, would be used to support entrepreneurship, youth employment, cyber security, and digital and road infrastructure.
Mr Ofori-Atta said E-Levy would come into effect (once appropriation is passed) from January 1, 2022.
To help young entrepreneurs to access capital, technical skills and mentoring to enable them create their own businesses, government would introduced the YouStart programme next year.
Under the YouStart programme, he said government had proposed to use GH¢1 billion each year to catalyse an ecosystem to create one million jobs and in partnership with the finance institutions and development partners, adding that the GH¢1 billion would help raise another GH¢2 billion.
“In addition, our local Banks have agreed to a package that will result in increasing their SME portfolio up to GH¢5 billion over the next three years,” Mr Ofori-Atta said, stressing “This results in an unprecedented historic GH¢10 billion commitment to the private sector and YouStart over the next three years.”
BY KINGSLEY ASARE A & JESSEL LARTEY THERSON-COFIE