Tito Mboweni refuses to scrap e-tolls
The finance minister says government services can only be sustainable if all those who can pay for services do so
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula and Gauteng premier David Makhura have lost the battle on the issue of e-tolls after finance minister Tito Mboweni refused to do away with the “user-pay principle”.
Mboweni announced in his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) that the Gauteng e-tolls were here to stay in their current form‚ which means road-users are expected to pay.
Mboweni said that after considering several options to resolve the impasse over the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project‚ the government decided to retain the user-pay principle.
“While there will be a further dispensation and value-added services‚ compliance will also be strengthened‚” he said.
Mboweni said the nonpayment of tolls had already led to roads deteriorating, as they had been unable to maintain the network.
“People must appreciate the service provided and just like they go to Pick n Pay to buy bread‚ they will pay for the use of this service‚” he told journalists before delivering his budget policy speech on Wednesday.
He urged the nation to pay its bills, saying SA needed to build a culture of payment‚ as government services could only be sustainable if all those who could pay for services did so.
In July‚ President Cyril Ramaphosa instructed Mboweni‚ Mbalula and Makhura to work together to come up with a solution to the e-tolls impasse by end of August.
This followed a social media spat between Mboweni and Makhura, which the president described as unfortunate and deeply regrettable.
Makhura had announced in his state of the province address that e-tolls would be scrapped‚ in accordance with a resolution that was initially taken at the Gauteng ANC conference in July 2018.
Mboweni took to Twitter to disagree‚ posting: “I don’t know why the middle and upper classes in Gauteng want to complicate our lives. The working class do not pay e-tolls!! Public transport! Hello...”
Makhura responded on the same platform saying he would refer the scrapping of e-tolls to the president for consideration to make the final decision and that his engagements with the president and Mbalula had been positive.
The MTBPS document shows that since 2014/2015‚ the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) has incurred annual average losses of R1bn.
“The agency is not generating sufficient cash from its toll portfolio to settle operational costs and debt redemptions falling due over the next three years.”
The government has extended a total guarantee facility of R38.9bn to the agency‚ of which R30.3bn had been used by March 31 2019.
Over the medium term‚ Sanral is expected to repay R10.7bn of maturing debt obligations and R10.8bn worth of interest payments.
To enable Sanral to pay these obligations‚ the government will implement direct user charges as outlined in the white paper on the National Transport Policy.