E-toll money must stay in SA: Outa

Government’s plan to slash official perks is welcome, but more needs to be done to ensure tax money stays in the country, the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said on Friday.

“Astounding to Outa is the fact that e-tolls will enrich a foreign company with more than R13 billion over the next 20 years, paid for by local motorists,” chairman Wayne Duvenage said in a statement.

“[The National] Treasury should be doing all they can to prevent South African taxpayers’ money — for use of social infrastructure — from leaving the country, let alone enriching any private company, foreign or local.”

In his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) on Wednesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that government planned to slash perks for all officials, from ministers to mayors, hoping to save more than R2bn annually from December 1.

The steps included setting a standardised cost limit for official cars, revoking all official credit cards immediately, shrinking the size of delegations travelling abroad, and putting up ministers waiting for official homes in rented apartments instead of hotels.

On Friday, Duvenage said Gordhan’s acknowledgement that the reduced spending would result in a cost saving of R2bn a year was “astounding”.

“Yet, one must ask why do we have to wait for difficult times before we get harsh on savings of this nature?

“This country requires strong corrective action and accountability throughout the civil service to address the multi-billions of rands squandered each year through maladministration, poor procurement practices and corruption, as detected by the Auditor General.”

It was shocking that ministers and civil servants were allowed to remain in government employ after squandering state revenue.

This was a “shocking disgrace and certainly does not display a serious approach towards accountable leadership”, Duvenage said.

Outa trusted government would reconsider scrapping e-tolls and putting some of the savings to good use by paying for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, he said.

The Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Outa’s appeal against the implementation of e-tolls by the SA National Roads Agency Limited on October 9.

On October 18, Outa announced it would not continue its appeal against the ruling because of a lack of money.

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E-toll money must stay in SA: Outa