The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says that Sanral’s ‘admission’ that the fuel levy might be a better option than e-tolls suggests that sanity is beginning to prevail at the road agency.
The Citizen reported that Sanral acknowledged the e-toll scheme’s failure by suggesting that a fuel levy may be the best solution to its road infrastructure funding crisis.
This, Outa said, comes while Sanral is running a renewed campaign to collect on outstanding e-toll bills.
“We also note with interest that Sanral says its financial solutions lie in the hands of government, and yet it was Sanral’s board that hatched and proposed this supposedly efficient e-toll scheme to government,” said Ben Theron, Outa’s chief operating officer.
“Having convinced government to adopt this poorly researched and irrational scheme, Sanral now turns to government for funds to bail it out of the mess it created.”
Sanral, according to Outa, had every opportunity in 2007 – when the Gauteng freeway upgrade plan was being introduced – to propose that the freeway upgrade bonds be financed by way of a slight increase to their annual allocation from the National Treasury, which could have been sourced from a 9% to 10% increase in the fuel levy at the time.
This would have generated the necessary security to settle the bonds, which would then have been almost settled by today, Outa said.
Outa said it is confused by an ongoing expensive litigation process to summons motorists who fail to pay e-toll bills.
“How can Sanral say in one breath that the scheme has virtually collapsed and that a new financing solution should be introduced, yet then want to sue people for not supporting the scheme which was literally stillborn from the outset?” said Outa chairperson, Wayne Duvenage.
“It’s time for government to make the final decision to turn off the failed e-toll scheme, cancel the costly e-toll collection contracts which have almost completed their five-year period and raise the revenue through allocations from Treasury and the fuel levy, which has been the funding mechanism used by government for social infrastructure for many decades.
“Unfortunately, the problem Sanral now faces is that the Treasury cupboard is almost bare, due to the mismanagement of taxpayers’ funds by a delinquent governing leadership,” he said.
Outa said it is defending the first group of civil claims brought by Sanral against motorists who refuse to pay.
“The only way Sanral can legally collect outstanding e-tolls is by issuing a summons (that means instituting legal proceedings).
“Sanral cannot collect money by SMS or telephone call. The matter only becomes a legal issue when you receive a summons. You cannot be blacklisted for failing to pay e-tolls before the matter is heard in court,” it said.