Sun Mar 26 01:32:46 SAST 2017

Fining highway users for their e-toll bill is an abuse of law: Cosatu

By Sapa | 2014-08-27 14:02:11.0

Fining road users for not paying their e-toll bills was a form of "back-door generation" and an abuse of law, the Congress of SA Trade Unions said on Wednesday.

Cosatu provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile told the advisory panel on e-tolls that such fines, and arresting people for not paying them, posed an unnecessary burden on an already clogged justice system.

"We believe it will be a waste of resources to come and arrest people," Dakile said.

"There was no mind put here at the beginning of this project. Only their stomach and nothing else."

He said with opposition to e-tolls uniting people across society like never before, it was clear the people of Gauteng did not want it.

Beyond being a socio-economic problem, e-tolling was also a political problem.

"We are not saying government must not pay... but what we are refusing is how you want to pay that debt.

"To resolve this thing, you need politicians who have got guts," he said.

Using the fuel levy to fund Gauteng's highways means no one has to be employed for fee collection.

"You don't even need to employ half an individual," said Dakile to the advisory panel on e-tolls and their socio-economic impact in Midrand.

He said an additional 14c a litre on the fuel levy would meet the SA National Roads Agency Limited's (Sanral) funding needs.

This was based on data indicating 22.5 billion litres of fuel was consumed in South Africa in the 2013/14 financial year. Each extra cent would provide an additional R215 million of revenue.

Other funding options proposed were a one percent surcharge on personal income tax, an additional tax bracket for those earning R1.5m a year, increasing company tax by one or two percent for one or two years, and increasing and standardising vehicle licence fees.

"We have consistently argued that taxation must be the main source of funding of road infrastructure," Dakile said.

Of the listed options, the fuel levy appeared to be the easiest.

Dakile warned that come the 2016 local government elections, if e-tolls were not properly addressed, the African National Congress could be governing Gauteng's three metros with the opposition.

The panel will focus on the implications and perceptions of financing the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and e-tolls.

On Monday, the Gauteng provincial government announced the panel would embark on a month-long consultation process, starting on Wednesday, with organisations and individuals.

Organisations were invited to make submissions on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of the GFIP and e-tolls, and how e-tolling's costs and benefits were distributed across society and the economy.

The panel was expected to report to premier David Makhura at the end of November.

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