Decision on how to pay for e-tolls must be fair to all con­cerned, says premier

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - LEBOGANG SEALE

GAUT­ENG Premier David Makhura has in­sisted that his gov­ern­ment is de­ter­mined to re­vise the pay­ment sys­tem for the con­tro­ver­sial e-tolls.

He would do this if the out­come of the re­view process was op­posed to its im­ple­men­ta­tion in the cur­rent form.

“Every­body has been mak­ing their sub­mis­sions (and) I

How do we do this so it doesn’t pun­ish

our econ­omy?

haven’t seen any­one who says peo­ple mustn’t pay. But how do we do it in a way that doesn’t pun­ish our econ­omy? How do we do it with­out neg­a­tively im­pact­ing on the as­pect of do­ing business and liv­ing (in Gaut­eng) or drive in­vestors out of the prov­ince?”

Makhura, who in­sti­tuted the re­view panel to as­sess the so­cioe­co­nomic im­pact of e-tolls, was speak­ing to The Star after an ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee meet­ing me­dia brief­ing yes­ter­day.

His decision to sub­ject e-tolls to an as­sess­ment process has put his ad­min­is­tra­tion at odds with the na­tional ANC and gov­ern­ment, es­pe­cially the na­tional Depart­ment of Trans­port and its agency, the South African Na­tional Roads Agency Limited.

San­ral told the e-tolls re­view panel in Pre­to­ria last week that in­vestor con­fi­dence in it had been neg­a­tively af­fected by the un­cer­tainty cre­ated by the Gaut­eng gov­ern­ment’s decision to set up the e-toll as­sess­ment panel.

ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral Gwede Man­tashe told The Star last month that Gaut­eng “must own up to the e-tolls” be­cause it was a provin­cial ini­tia­tive.

Makhura said he was not in­ter­ested in who ini­ti­ated the sys­tem, but in the out­come of the re­view process.

“I am not in­ter­ested in that de­bate. I am in­ter­ested in the fun­da­men­tal is­sue, which is how do we ad­dress the is­sue?

“The crit­i­cal is­sue is that the peo­ple of the prov­ince have raised con­cerns, and their con­cerns have to be ad­dressed by the gov­ern­ment. We have to con­sider the in­ter­ests of the work­ing class and mid­dle class (that) we don’t want to pun­ish.”

The ANC in Gaut­eng re­jected the pay­ment of e-tolls at its provin­cial con­fer­ence last month. The provin­cial lead­er­ship en­dorsed a fuel levy as an al­ter­na­tive – but this has been shot down by the na­tional Depart­ment of Trans­port and San­ral.

Asked about this, Makhura said he was flex­i­ble on the sub­mis­sions made to the re­view panel. “The panel will en­ter­tain var­i­ous is­sues. I am not mar­ried to any­thing, so long as we ad­dress the key con­cerns. It (e-tolls) is very costly and bur­den­some.”

The premier said the re­view panel had started writ­ing its re­port, fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the pre­sen­ta­tions.

The panel will sub­mit its re­port to Makhura, who will then ta­ble it be­fore the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil for con­sid­er­a­tion and a decision.

PIC­TURE: BHEKIKHAYA MABASO

FLEX­I­BLE: Premier David Makhura at me­dia brief­ing to re­port back on the re­view process of the Gaut­eng e-tolling sys­tem.

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