MoC searches for toll gate solution
THE Ministry of Construction has already closed more than half of the 300 road and bridge tollgates it has built, and is looking for ways to make up the lost revenue that would result from plans to close the rest.
U Kyaw Lin, the permanent secretary of the ministry, told The Myanmar Times on August 8 that there were only 140 Ministry of Commerce-built gates left, and that number would be reduced further.
“Since this government took office, 161 toll gates on roads and bridges have been removed, leaving about 140 gates. We are seeking a solution that would reduce that number further,” he said.
Toll gates that were not built by the Ministry of Construction, but by firms as part of a build-operate-transfer project, are unaffected.
Under the previous government, there were 301 Ministry of Construction-built toll bridges and roads nationwide and a tender invitation was typically made to the private sector to collect the fees.
When the National League for Democracy government took office in April, the removal of tollgates began.
The remaining 140 gates will bring in K24 billion in revenue this year. In order to make up for that income, which would be lost if the remaining tollgates were closed, the ministry is seeking a solution that would allow it to maintain its budget for road and bridge renovations at current levels of state revenue.
“We’re looking at a gasoline tax, as many other countries have. In Japan, the tax is 15 percent of the price of fuel, while other countries levy 20pc, payable by any driver who uses the roads. If we collect K60 per litre, the revenue would be K200 billion. We are now doing research on the likely effects on commodity prices, to see if it would be advantageous and if people can accept it,” he said.
The ministry is also calculating whether the fruits of a fuel tax could pay for the repair of roads and bridges. Any such decision would require a high-level government decision.
U Soe Tun, chair of the Myanmar Automobile Manufacturers and Distributors Association, said, “I welcome the news that the government will reduce the number of toll gates. Levying a fuel tax is a common practice overseas, but I don’t know what percentage they will assess. I think the tax should be collected to generate revenue for the country and to fund the repair of roads and bridges.”
A man crosses a busy road in Yangon in July.