Government is working on a legal instrument that would regularise its desire to introduce urban tolling as part of its measures to enhance revenue meant to improve infrastructure, a Cabinet Minister has said.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said the idea to have urban tolling had also received some resistance but were working on ways to have a buy in coupled with coming up with an enabling law. Minister Mhona said this in the National Assembly this week during question and answer session.
Umzingwane legislator Cde Levi Mayihlome (Zanu-PF) had asked what was delaying tolling of urban roads and Government investment in urban mass transportation.
“Government has tried to introduce the tolling of urban roads and the initial attempt faced some hurdles. On the legal side, urban tolling is not included in the existing Tolling Act. My Ministry is currently working on a draft amendment of the Act in order to accommodate the issue. Urban tolling was also met with public resistance during the initial attempt. Ruwa, Hwange and currently Skyline Tollgate are examples. The first two tollgates have since been moved out of the urban setup while the process for relocation of Skyline Tollgate is in progress,” said Minister Mhona.
“The Cabinet is looking at reconsidering the process of introducing urban tolling. Consultative processes are to be initiated with stakeholders who include the motoring public. The programme for investment in urban mass transportation is spearheaded by the Ministry of Local Government and Public Works. Government is in the process of capacitating ZUPCO and partnering other bus operators to buttress efforts of Government for mass transportation. To that end, Government, through CMED, is procuring buses some of which have been provided to ZUPCO on a hire basis as part of their participation in the intra-city transportation system.”
Responding to another question, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube admitted that Government was giving guarantees to firms for them to access loans from financial institutions.
He said the process were rigorous in ensuring that deserving firms got guarantees. Harare North MP Mr Norman Markham (MDC) had asked about Government policy regarding to guaranteeing private borrowings both from limited companies and people.
He said there were certain firm that he knew had got loans riding on a Government guarantee.
“I am glad he noticed that we guaranteed some companies, guaranteeing their loans with specific banks. This is the implementation of the $18 billion Covid-19 response package that we put in place to support companies to come out of the COVID situation. Our approach within that programme is to provide guarantees so that we work together with banks to actually provide the loans, we as Government provide the guarantee and it is never 100 percent. We provide 50 percent,” said Prof Ncube.
“So the bank is not covered for the other half as we cover 50 percent and this has worked well in terms of these companies and we will be doing more going forward.
“The advantage of that is we do not have to outlay resources as Government, but we are able to leverage, unlock resources from the banks to support the private sector because without the guarantees, the banks would not do it and then we are stuck as an economy.
“We are trying to move forward and this is part of the $18 billion rescue package,” said Prof Ncube.