The University of Ghana, Legon acted within the law in its imposition of tolls for the use of its roads, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport has said.
The Vice-Chairman of the committee, Mr Theophilus Tetteh Chaie, told the Daily Graphic that the University of Ghana Act, 2010, (Act 806) empowered the institution to impose the tolls.
He said after a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, and some members of the University Council on Thursday, the committee had arrived at a decision and would forward its recommendations to the House for appropriate action.
He said it was revealed during deliberations with officials of the university that it (university) secured a loan of GH¢1.3 million to rehabilitate the roads and, therefore, in the opinion of the committee, if the government or the public was against the collection of the tolls, then the government must absorb the loan.
Alternatively, he said, the government could initiate moves to have the law which empowered the university to charge the tolls repealed or construct the road behind the Gulf House in Accra and the Haatso Road to ease pressure on the university’s roads.
If those two roads were constructed and drivers still wanted to use the university’s roads, he said, they would not complain if they were asked to pay tolls.
Mr Chaie, who quoted copiously from Act 806 during the interview, said those were part of the recommendations that the committee would make to the House for a decision.
Article 16 (1) of Act 806, which deals with the powers of the University Council, states: “Subject to the provision of this Act, the University Council shall have the power to do or provide for any act or thing in relation to the university which the council considers necessary or expedient in its capacity as the governing body of the university.“
Section 16 (2) states: “The conferment of particular powers on the University Council by other provisions of this Act shall not be taken to limit the generality of this section.”
Section 23 (1) (a) states that the university shall have power for any purpose which the council considers necessary or expedient, or (b) for the purpose of the performance of the functions of the university, to acquire and hold movable or immovable property, sell, lease, mortgage or otherwise alienate or dispose of that property and to enter into any other transaction.
Section 24 (1) states: “The funds of the university include (a) subventions from the Government of Ghana; (b) moneys that accrue to the University in the performance of its functions consisting of (i) fees paid by students duly registered by the University; (ii) fees, charges and dues in respect of services rendered by or through the university;(iii) proceeds from the sale of publications of the university (iv) grants, subscriptions, rents and royalties; (c) interest from investments; (d) endowments, donations and gifts; and (e) moneys from any other source approved by the council.”
Mr Chaie relied on those clauses, among many others, to drive home his point.
“They are free to acquire property, enter into contracts, secure loans and devise ways to pay back the loans,” he said, adding, “This law was passed to enable them to expand infrastructure and not rely on the government for funds to embark on projects,” he said.
He quoted Section Three Subsection Two of the act, which states: “ A person who is not a member of the university shall not enter the premises of the university or have access to the facilities or privileges of the university without the permission of the university” and said clearly, most people who passed through the university daily had no business there and there was nothing wrong with the authorities exacting tolls or charges on them.
Mr Chaie’s position notwithstanding, Article 174(1)- (2) of the constitution states:”No taxation shall be imposed otherwise than by or under the authority of an Act of Parliament.”
“Where an act, enacted in accordance with clause (1) of this article, confers power on any person or authority to waive or vary a tax imposed by that act, the exercise of power of waiver of variation, in favour of any person or authority, shall be subject to the prior approval of Parliament by resolution.”
Legon could still charge tolls after payment of loan
According to him, the university’s roads deteriorated severely during the construction of the N1 Highway because the Ministry of Roads and Highways prevailed upon the university authorities to allow its premises to be used as a thoroughfare and it was time for the institute to raise money to repair its roads and devise measures to recoup its investment.
“Even after the loan secured by the university is paid,” he said, it could still charge the tolls if it wanted to because the roads would have to be maintained.
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