Transport budget “woefully” inadequate – Minister
Transport Minister Dzifa Attivor has bemoaned the slashing of her ministry’s budget, maintaining that it could stifle ongoing efforts to restructure and streamline the transport sector.
Speaking on the floor of Parliament following approval of the 2016 annual budget estimates for her ministry, Ms. Attivor said: “The allocation as against the planned budget is woefully inadequate to meet developmental needs of the sector in 2016”.
Despite the transport ministry lamenting over limited funds, the ministry were able to expend an amount of Gh?31,000.00 on the rebranding of Metro Mass Rapid Transit buses. The amount captured under the annual Petroleum Fund was meant to brand 116 MMRT buses with pictures.
The rebranding expenditure generated a lot of controversy in Parliament, however, when Ms Attivor appeared before the legislators. She claimed said she did not have the details of the re-branding at hand and promised to make it available to the House at a later date.
The transport ministry had earmarked a planned budget of GH?688,759,724 — but was allocated GH?126,317,102 which the minister says is less than half the 2015 approved budget of GH?361,652,706.
According to the minister, the figure is 65 percent less than what was approved for the ministry in the 2015 operational year, and implored the house to request the Finance Minister to improve the sector’s allocation.
The programme-based budget for 2016 covers the Ministry of Transport headquarters and selected subvented agencies including Ghana Railway Development Authority (GRDA), Driver and Vehicle Licencing Authority (DVLA), Government Technical Training Centre (GTTC), National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) and the Regional Maritime University (RMU).
Chairman of the Committee on Roads and Transport, Theophilus Tetteh Chaie — briefing parliament on some projects that will be carried out in the coming year — said the budget allocation will cover rail infrastructure, an aviation services programme and related areas.
On the aviation services programme, expansion and refurbishment of the International Arrival Hall of the Kotoka International Airport and construction of the Southern Apron is expected to continue till completion in 2016.
The committee report also noted that upgrading of the Tamale Airport and expansion of the runway would be completed in 2016.
Mr. Tetteh Chaie noted that identification and selection of a strategic investor in respect of establishing a national carrier will also be carried out next year.
“With regard to the maritime services programme, the three 50-seat high-speed passenger ferries and one modular ferry will be deployed on the Volta Lake for operations.
“There is also expected to be construction of the Takoradi Logistics Platform for warehousing materials for the oil fields; and the dredging of berths and basins to 14m depth will be completed and operationalised in the year 2016,” he said.
Tetteh Chaie also added that the Front End Engineering Design (FEED) on the Eastern Railway Line will commence in 2016, while works on the Sekondi-Takoradi via Kojokrom section of the Western Railway Line — which is 50 percent complete at the moment — will continue.
The remaining 84 buses for the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) will be delivered to the Metro Mass Transit Company Limited and the Inter City STC during the first quarter of 2016, while the Scania buses for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) will be operationalised.
The committee report also outlined some challenges and constraints that these agencies and MDAs have to contend with. It noted that the performance of domestic airlines in the aviation industry has fallen drastically due to duties/taxes imposed on the importation of spare-parts and jet fuel, and also the introduction of VAT on domestic flights.
“The imposition of taxes on domestic flights have made the airfares go up, resulting in low patronage,” Tetteh Chaie explained.
The committee’s report also recommended that Parliament through government provide GH?20,500,000 for procuring a training vessel for the Regional Maritime University.
They also recommended that government resolve the critical staffing at GRDA, NRSC, DVLA and GTTA in order not to impact negatively on their operations.