Solvik-Olsen: Motorists save toll fees of 12 billion
Government grants will reduce the toll road share and save the motorists NOK 12 billion over the next decades, according to Minister of Transport, Ketil Solvik-Olsen (Frp).
– The toll road share has not been lower since 2004, says Solvik-Olsen to NTB.
He refers to new calculations from the ministry and states that Government grants constitute a share of new investments in 2017 amounting to 70 per cent. The road tolls are responsible for the rest.
– When we took over, the road toll share had grown over many years, accounting for more than 40 per cent, he says.
NOK 12 billion
Already in the current period, the motorists have saved NOK 2 billion in tolls due to the removal of toll plazas and reduced tariffs, Solvik-Olsen argues.
On top of that, additional Government funds have been approved for 41 road toll projects to reduce the toll share and rates. This provides NOK 9.75 billion in savings, according to the report from the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Minister is confident that the transfers will be used to cut tariffs.
– It is a prerequisite that the tariffs are reduced, he says.
After what the NTB is informed, it will amount to NOK 500 million in savings, approximately NOK 6 billion in total during the National Transport Plan (NTP) period from 2018 to 2029 and a further approx. NOK 3.75 billion for projects extending beyond this period.
Glazing on the cake
Geir Pollestad of the Centre Party is not impressed with the Government’s calculus.
– Glazing on the cake, he replies, indicating that the Government has set a Norwegian record in collection of tolls during the period.
– The Parliament has, on proposals from Ketil Solvik-Olsen, decided to demand a fee of NOK 126 billion in tolls. The fact that the toll share will decrease and the number of toll companies should be reduced, was even decided by the previous Government, says Pollestad.
The Sp-profile believes that it is fair and square that motorists can save NOK 12 billion.
– We must remember that the money for toll cuts came as a result of agreement on the so-called car package and is covered by increased tax on fuel, says Pollestad.
No additional promises
Solvik-Olsen indicates that the tax burden for motorists has declined, despite increased tax on fuel.
– The annual fee has been reduced, the re-registration fee has been reduced, and the one-time charge has been reduced, for example, by eliminating the tax on powerful engines. In fact, the Government uses more money in 2017 on roads than the state rakes in on car-related fees.
But are not reduced tariffs a minor comfort to a party that went to election on a promise to remove all the country’s toll roads?
– If we look at the toll in isolation, we have unfortunately lost some road toll battles in the Parliament. This costs drivers dearly. But I think most people notice that the investments have increased significantly under our Government, he says.
When asked if Frp again goes to elections with the promise to remove all road stations, the answer is negative.
– The Frp goes to election in favour of lower tolls and increased road investments, says the Minister for Transport.
© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today