The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) finds Minister Peters’ comments and response to the DA’s questions in Parliament this week – regarding the progress of the e-toll situation – as a reflection of someone who is grossly out of touch with reality on the matter.
For the Minister to say “No money is lost as the amount of revenue which is not collected remains in debtors, and therefore still collectible from the debtor” is tantamount to a gross oversimplification of the real world, when it comes to the scheme’s effectiveness and workability as a user pays scheme to finance the freeway upgrade.
“There are numerous examples of insurmountable debt which is meaningless when reflected in the balance sheets of these organisations, if the money becomes irretrievable. Such examples are seen in the many municipal and metro Road Traffic departments and metro electricity billing crisis where billions of rands are owed to the local authorities and yet they are unable to collect or enforce,” says Wayne Duvenage, the Chairperson of OUTA. “The money may reflect in the books of these organisations, but the reality is the authorities will never find a way to convert the debt into bankable revenue.”
As far as the mounting debt on the flawed and irrational e-toll scheme goes, Sanral have very little chance of ever collecting the now almost R8bn outstanding debt. The e-toll discount dispensation which ended in May this year, had no significant impact on their plight and neither has Sanral’s latest round of summonses sent to 6500 members of the public.
We are eager to see how Sanral’s auditors will reflect last years “collectable” e-toll debt of several billions of rands, in the 2016 financial statements which are due any day now. It is common practice that once reasonable doubt exists on the collectability of mounting debt, especially that which has shown a growing trend for over a prolonged period, this debt must be written off – unless an extremely plausible explanation is provided to convince the auditor general of its retrievability.
The legal defensive challenge against the e-toll summonses remains a significant and real threat to the e-toll schemes existence and while the court challenges ensue, SANRAL’s debt will continue to mount, which poses serious problems for the state owned organization and its credit ratings.
“We believe the e-toll debacle is a self inflicted problem for SANRAL, as a result of their inability to meaningfully engage with the public or their critics on the schemes serious flaws, or to explore feasible solutions to the impasse. For as long as SANRAL and the Minister continue to bury their heads in the sand on the e-toll issue, OUTA, COSATU, the Faith Based organizations, political parties, business associations and the millions of defiant citizens will continue to treat this scheme with disdain and attention it deserves.”