E-tolls to further knock debt crisis

Citizens' rights group OUTA has said that South African’s high debt levels are yet more proof that e-tolling would be the worst possible option to pay for new roads.

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20/06/2013 11:06:43

E-tolls to further knock debt crisis

Speaking in Johannesburg, OUTA's chairman, Wayne Duvenage echoed the concerns raised by the National Credit Regulator (NCR), who stated "In the past three months, almost 200,000 additional citizens have been classified as having impaired credit records, bringing the total number to 9.53 million." Duvenage added, “Thousands of road users in Gauteng will not be able to find another few hundred rands after tax, to pay e-tolls."

"Other findings recently released by the NCR show that almost half of all credit-active South Africans are in some kind of financial difficulty," Duvenage commented. "SANRAL is ignoring the reality that not only are the overwhelming majority of South Africans opposed to e-tolling for various valid reasons, many living in Gauteng will simply not be able to afford it and will simply not pay" he added.

Duvenage said that Government's own recent review of state-owned entities had emphasised the user-pays principle as not appropriate for funding of social infrastructure, including roads. He said Government and SANRAL should acknowledge the broad opposition to e-tolling and revert to funding roads improvement out of the existing fiscus, which is more than adequately complimented by road users through the user pays mechanism of the fuel levy. "Gauteng is South Africa's main commercial centre and all South Africans benefit from the this economic hub which is made possible by Gauteng's freeways," Duvenage said, adding that Gauteng contributed around 40% of the national taxation receipts and this region’s citizens had uncomplainingly subsidised roads in other provinces for decades. "Gauteng’s freeways are South Africa’s freeways and SANRAL should cease with its weak ‘User Pays’ argument to introduce an extremely costly and inefficient means of funding the freeway upgrade, which handsomely enriches foreign companies.”

He said the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) strongly believed that no additional levies are needed to fund the Gauteng Freeway and other road upgrades. He described South Africa's road users as overtaxed through licenses, import duties, carbon taxes, fuel levies and a new tyre tax, adding that Government should focus on reducing the tens of billions of rands squandered each year through maladministration, poor procurement and corruption within the civil service and enable the entire nation to benefit from improvements in roads and other critical social infrastructure. He added that if government however was in a dire situation and needed the extra funds from society to pay for Gauteng’s freeway upgrade, a modest fuel levy increase of ten cents a liter would cost the average motorist less than R15 per month compared the much higher costs that tolling is expected to have on not only the average Gauteng motorist, but the entire nation’s consumer base who will be impacted by the resultant inflationary forces, thereby further exacerbating the growing citizen liquidity problem.

Picture: Flickr/Paul Saad

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