e-Tolls definitely a thing of the past

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says it notes the article published by online publication Moneyweb, which states that the Cabinet has decided to scrap e-tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

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However, Outa emphasised that the decision to reverse the toll road declaration on Gauteng freeways requires formal enactment in law.

“Until this happens, this statement must be taken as rhetoric,” said Outa CEO, Wayne Duvenage.

The Moneyweb article quoted Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula as stating on Friday that the Cabinet had taken a decision to scrap e-tolls, but National Treasury had said, “no wait” when this decision was supposed to be implemented.

The article added that Mbalula said the nine options for the future of e-tolls that were presented to the Cabinet in 2019 had been reduced to only “looking at the scrapping and the implications”.

“That is the option we are looking at,” it quoted Mbalula as saying.

Mbalula said an announcement on e-tolls will be made at the latest in the Budget speech in February 2022 by Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana.

Outa said in a statement that scrapping the e-toll scheme is the cheapest option.

The organisation added that none of the current e-toll funds were being allocated to the GFIP bonds and there are no penalties if the scheme is cancelled.

It said the state has already been funding the GFIP bonds through Treasury’s tax allocations.

Outa said this is the proposal the organisation made from the outset of the freeway upgrade, and Treasury has already increased the fuel levy well above Outa’s suggested amount of 10c a litre of petrol since 2008.

This means the funds already exist within Treasury’s coffers to make allocations to the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) to pay for the GFIP bonds “as it has been doing for the past six years”, it said.

Duvenage said Outa is urging the state to do less talking and make its decision final by reversing the declaration of Gauteng freeways as tolled roads.

“Until then, the public cannot regard the e-toll scheme as having been scrapped.

“For now, we shall keep the champagne on ice,” Duvenage said.

Many motorists have been boycotting the payment of their e-toll accounts since the scheme was implemented as part of a civil disobedience campaign.

President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019 appointed Mbalula to head a task team that had to report to Cabinet by August 2019 on the options for the future of e-tolls after the e-toll payment compliance rate dropped below 19%.

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