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LACK OF CLARITY FROM SA GOVERNMENT WITH REGARDS TO E-TOLLS

Date: 2018-08-21



Sanral has collected about R5.

6bn less in e-tolls than budgeted, mostly because there is no clarity from the government about the future of the system, Parliament has heard.

Briefing the Standing Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday, Treasury's deputy director general on public finance, Dr Mampho Modise, highlighted that the financial position of several entities for the 2017/18 financial year.

Sanral had a positive cash position of R7.6bn which was 38% less than the R12.3bn that was budgeted. Modise explained that during the year Sanral struggled to raise the R20.6bn budgeted e-toll revenue.

"The noise generated around e-tolls have affected the performance of Sanral," Modise said. "The numbers are not looking well for Sanral," she added.

As a result of not raising the required funds from e-tolls, Sanral is hampered in its ability to finance the maintenance of non-toll roads, having under spent R605m on the road maintenance program for these roads, according to Treasury's report.

"What this entity need is the enforcement of a decision by the government of what is going to happen or what should happen with e-tolls. Once that is done there’ll be some confidence in what government is planning to do with e-tolls," said Modise.

However, without clear decisions from the government, regarding the future of e-tolls, Sanral is finding it difficult to go to the market to borrow funds to finance it. Transport Minister, Blade Nzimande, in April told the portfolio committee on transport that he worries about the funding of road infrastructure development, especially the finance of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project or e-tolls, which is a "big issue".

"We will have to come up with a strategy of funding road construction and maintenance programmes on a sustainable basis," he said at the time.

At Tuesday's briefing, Treasury raised concerns over the financial position of the Road Accident Fund and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).

Prasa's available funds were 12.3% more than expected, compared to the previous financial year end, but Treasury said that this was due to lack of spending on the passenger rail entity's maintenance and capital programme. The net cash flow from investing activities was 48.5% of R6.6bn less than projected.

The Department of Transport and Treasury are working with the entity to help it fast-track spending on projects. If it cannot, then Treasury will reduce its allocations to Prasa, Modise warned.

The RAF, on the other hand, is struggling to keep up with the claims it receives, as they outweigh the income it gets from the road accident fuel levy. The levy was increased by 30c per litre this year, but even these funds can only cover current claims, adds Modise.

The RAF cash, that was available at the end of the year, was R114.2m less than the R1.68bn which was budgeted.



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