ETC gets 74% of e-toll in­come – Outa

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Roy Cokayne

E-TOLL col­lec­tion com­pany ETC was paid 74 per­cent of the e-toll in­come re­ceived from mo­torists since the in­cep­tion of the sys­tem on the Gaut­eng Free­way Im­prove­ment Project (GFIP) in De­cem­ber 2013, says the Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Wayne Du­ve­nage, the chair­man of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, said this de­duc­tion was based on the re­cent up­date and ex­pla­na­tion on e-toll pay­ments pro­vided by Trans­port Min­is­ter Joe Maswan­ganyi to Par­lia­ment last week.

Du­ve­nage said their anal­y­sis showed that R2.2 bil­lion of the R2.9bn of the e-toll in­come re­ceived from mo­torists since De­cem­ber 2013 had been paid to ETC. He said this was a clear in­di­ca­tion of how ir­ra­tional the scheme had be­come and to make mat­ters worse com­pli­ance lev­els con­tin­ued to de­cline year-on-year.

Du­ve­nage added that with an av­er­age of R55 mil­lion a month paid to ETC and cur­rent e-toll in­come lev­els at about R63m a month, vir­tu­ally no money was go­ing to­wards the e-toll bonds.

“This is clearly a prob­lem­for San­ral (SA Na­tional Roads Agency) and ex­plains why their bond auc­tions are not at­tract­ing any in­vestors, push­ing this state-owned en­tity to the brink of fi­nan­cial fail­ure,” he said.

Maswan­ganyi, in re­sponse to a ques­tion in Par­lia­ment from DA spokesper­son on fi­nance David Ross, said the com­pli­ance rate in Fe­bru­ary was 29 per­cent.

But Maswan­ganyi said the value of the out­stand­ing debt could not be dis­closed be­cause year-end pro­cesses and au­dits still had to be con­cluded.

Maswan­ganyi said this would be avail­able once the au­di­tor-gen­eral had con­cluded the au­dit on July 31.

But Maswan­ganyi said the au­dited re­sults at end-March last year re­flected the out­stand­ing value of trade re­ceiv­ables, which would be for un­reg­is­tered users, as R7.2bn.

Du­ve­nage added that their as­sess­ment of San­ral’s lat­est re­port­ing in­di­cated they were not ac­count­ing for e-toll rev­enues billed at the puni­tive tar­iffs, but were in­stead re­flect­ing their in­voic­ing and out­stand­ing rev­enues at the dis­counted e-tag rates.

This sug­gested that San­ral wanted to re­flect their out­stand­ing debt as low as pos­si­ble, de­spite the fact that the agency was re­flect­ing out­stand­ing debt to the un­reg­is­tered road user at the higher puni­tive tar­iff.

But Du­ve­nage claimed San­ral would still be owed about R9.2bn at end-March 2017, de­spite re­flect­ing their out­stand­ing debt at the dis­counted value. He added that Outa be­lieved that San­ral would not be able to col­lect a mean­ing­ful por­tion of this out­stand­ing debt re­gard­less of the out­come of the pend­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

He said the e-toll lit­i­ga­tion process was in full swing and Outa had filed its pa­pers in re­sponse to San­ral’s dec­la­ra­tions against its mem­bers.

“Th­ese cases will be ven­ti­lated in both the high court and mag­is­trate’s court in the lat­ter part of the year. In all in­stances, there is a con­sti­tu­tional el­e­ment to each case, along with the tech­ni­cal el­e­ments that will be ar­gued.

“We be­lieve the courts will not want to be clogged up with nu­mer­ous cases and that a few cases will first be tested in court to es­tab­lish the way for­ward for the e-toll de­ba­cle. We be­lieve our cases are all ex­tremely strong,” he said.

Du­ve­nage said apart from the tough chal­lenge San­ral would face in de­fend­ing the law­ful­ness of the e-toll de­ci­sion on con­sti­tu­tional grounds, Outa had also un­cov­ered many billing er­rors and process fail­ures within the scheme.

Fred Nel, the DA’s Gaut­eng spokesman for roads and trans­port, said the e-toll pay­ment rate data pro­vided by the trans­port min­is­ter painted a vivid pic­ture of the peo­ple’s re­jec­tion of a sys­tem the ANC gov­ern­ment im­posed on them.

PHOTO: KAREN SANDISON

Cars ap­proach the Blou­valk e-toll gantry on the N1 west­ern by­pass be­tween the Wil­liam Ni­col and Rivo­nia off-ramps. Outa chair­man Wayne Du­ve­nage says Outa’s fig­ures show the ir­ra­tional­ity of the e-toll scheme.

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