THE Minister of Transport Jose Luis Abalos has responded to widespread criticism for his proposal to introduce tolls on all of Spain’s road networks insisting that he will do so only with opposition support.
During a senate session, Abalos explained that the controversial plan is only a proposal, and the government will not go ahead without unilateral support.
Abalos explained that the introduction of toll roads is purely an effort to bring Spain in line with its European neighbours, and in return build a case for its EU COVID-19 recovery plan.
News of the proposal came to light last week that Spain is investigating a ‘pay-to-use’ scheme for Spain’s highways.
As well as garnering favour with the EU, the payments would also help address the rising costs of upkeep on some 12,000km of high-capacity roads.
However the plan has received widespread condemnation, with many claiming it preys on the Spanish public while they are already under financial strain due to the pandemic.
“We want to address the debate, and nothing more.” said Abalos.
“We have to understand how we continue to maintain Spain’s road network, but this is an issue that we have been discussing for many years.”
“However if there is no consensus between the political parties, the proposal will not go ahead.” said Abalos.
Abalos also responded to harsh critic of the plan, PP senator Francisco Martin, who called the transport minister ‘fraudulent’ and ‘a liar’.
“You are the most expensive minister in the history of democracy,” said Martin
“It is nonsense and armed robbery of the pocket of the Spanish, because the highways are already built and do not need external financing, they are already paid for via state budgets.”
Despite the strong objections to the proposed tolls, Abalos reiterated that the government would continue to withdraw existing tolls until the 2024 deadline, a plan that has so far released 550km of roads from payment, with a further 480km planned for this year.