According to investigation conducted by the GNN, the actual purpose of the Road Fund is to finance routine, periodic maintenance and rehabilitation of public roads in the country, the Fund shall also be used to assist the national government in its exercise of their functions relevant to public roads.
Like other African countries and in other parts of the world, governments at all levels use public funds to invest in transport projects such as roads, these public funds are the result of collected taxes, including the fuel levy and toll fees. As a result, a generation of road maintenance funds has be created in El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and four states of Brazil, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Paraná, and Goiás.
Other countries placed fuel and other excise taxes with general revenues and fund roads, including Australia, England, Germany, Italy, and Mexico. Japan used to dedicate fuel and vehicle taxes to road infrastructure, but began placing such revenues into the general account in fiscal year 2009.
In the United States, most spending from the Highway Trust Fund for highway and mass transit programs is done through federal grants to state and local governments, the federal government accounts for about one-quarter of all public spending on roads and highways, with the remaining three-quarters financed by state and local governments.
In the United Kingdom, public sector spending on roads in the United Kingdom reached nearly 11 billion British pounds in 2020/21, an increase of 820 million British pounds when compared with the previous year.
Here in Liberia, the World Bank Group Partnership Framework (CPF) for Liberia guides the partnership between the Bank and Liberia over the FY19-FY24 timeframe. The CPF focuses on promoting inclusive and sustainable growth, human development, and bridging the infrastructure.
Experts spoken to via mobile phone, including representatives of the World Bank in Liberia, African Development Bank also in Liberia and some members of the Liberian Legislature by our team of reporters over the weekend , publicly appraised the current management team at the National Road Fund Liberia, for its excellence handling of the NRF.
Noting that since its inception few years ago, those in the management team are extremely doing well in the management of the Road Fund, pouring praises on them, noting that these Liberians in the helm of power at the NRF must be appreciated for job well done,
“We must learn to appreciate our own people with the level of professional talents they have brought to this entity, worth commendable; Liberia should lean the success story of other countries”, an expert from one of the donor’s agency speaking to the GNN via mobile via mobile said.
Recently Margibi County District # 1, Representative Tibelrosa Summon Tarponweh forwarded before the Plenary of the House of Representatives a bill seeking to repeal the current National Road Fund Office Act of 2016 and enact into law an Act to establish the National Road Fund Administration of Liberia.
In his communication to his colleagues, Representative Tarpokweh said the bill, when enacted, will make the proposed “National Road Fund Administration” an autonomous agency under the general supervision and direction of its Board of Directors appointed by the President of Liberia. The Margibi County District #1 Lawmaker asserted that road fund management and practices in the African region are operated by autonomous institutions.
According to him, making the current National Road Fund Office an autonomous agency will assist in protecting revenues collected from petroleum importers.
“Ring-fencing or adequately protecting revenues generated from fuel levies, direct deposits and remittances into the National Road Fund Administration account will be required when enacted,” he stated.
“Such protection will assure all Liberians adequate financial management and avoid the excessive risk of losing focus on the primary objective of the proposed National Road Fund Administration. This is justified in the fact that it increases a substantial amount of independence of the financial and program management system.”
Following the reading and deliberation of the bill, Representative Sampson Wiah of Sinoe County proffered a motion to send the bill to the committees on Public Works, Judiciary and Ways, Means & Finance.
But for analysts who spoke their concern have reacted to the proposed Bill by the Margibi Lawmaker who is seeking to repeal the current National Road Fund Office Act of 2016 and enact into law an Act to establish the National Road Fund Administration of Liberia, stressing that with this call, it seems that the lawmaker has not realize the role being played by the current management.
By Joel Cholo Brooks