Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

With the unemployment rate at an alarming 29.1%, finance minister Tito Mboweni’s stance on e-tolls will further harm the prospects of reviving the ailing economy. At least 6.7-million people are unemployed and desperately need jobs.

When faced with an unemployment crisis, to boost economic growth the governments of the world’s most advanced countries employ strategies such as reducing taxes instead of increasing them. They create labour-intensive  jobs by increasing government spending on big projects and cut interest rates.

Low interest rates also tend to boost the housing market, spur car sales, and increase personal consumption spending.

Policy certainty assists business to make informed decisions about long-term investments in the country. Sadly, this is not the case in SA, as Mboweni recently left motorists still confused about the future of e-tolls during his medium-term budget policy statement.

Mboweni should know better: Gauteng motorists have already paid for the road improvements through their taxes and fuel levy. Gauteng motorists should not be punished twice, by being made to pay for the same road improvements a second time.

Before the May elections, Gauteng premier David Makhura repeated his government’s stance that the e-tolls will be scrapped, even saying President Cyril Ramaphosa was giving the tolling system his urgent attention.

Makhura’s stance on e-tolls has been contradicted by Mboweni, the Treasury and former transport minister Blade Nzimande. This is while Ramaphosa’s task team is supposedly devising alternatives to e-tolls. Were Gauteng residents being lied to by different spheres of government?

In the wake of more confusion after Mboweni’s insistence that e-tolls are here to stay, which angered the public, in a desperate effort to try containing the fallout, the cabinet rushed to call for more consultations on the issue.

Gauteng is the goose that lays the golden eggs of the economy, but Mboweni doesn’t seem to acknowledge this truth. The province contributes about 35% to SA’s GDP. In 2016, Gauteng’s contribution to GDP was R1.5-trillion. The e-tolls have had a devastating effect on business’ ability to thrive in the economic hub, and on residents.

Businesses and motorists will continue to be negatively affected by the government’s indecision on e-tolls.

Nyaniso Jeku
African Transformation Movement Gauteng spokesperson

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