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Gauteng adjustment budget is vague about funding of e-toll debt

The FF Plus sees Gauteng's provincial adjustment budget as a vague submission that does not say much about the province's funding of the e-toll debt that it has to take over.

It is alarming that there is no clarity on how the Gauteng government is going to fund the e-toll debt.

If the Gauteng government was serious about scrapping the e-toll system, it would have made sure that the National Treasury took over the entire e-toll debt burden so as to not put any more pressure on the most important economic province in the country.

According to the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, indicated that Gauteng must take over 30% of SANRAL's e-toll debt. The National Treasury will take over the remaining 70% of the e-toll debt.

It means that the Gauteng government is responsible for paying an amount of R12,9 billion. It is an enormous additional debt burden for a provincial government that does not have many revenue streams of its own.

The Gauteng MEC for Finance, Jacob Mamobolo, indicated that there will be negotiations about this, and that a hybrid financial model is envisaged. He added that new sources of revenue will be identified without putting any further financial strain on the people of Gauteng.

He, furthermore, stated that the debt burden will be paid off over an extended period.

The question remains of whether additional revenue can be generated through the province's limited revenue streams, like liquor and gambling licences.

In the FF Plus's view, in its haste to abolish e-toll the Gauteng government created an even bigger problem for itself, which could have a negative impact on service delivery.

The ANC government's opportunism has burdened the province with debt that may take up to 20 years to pay off.

Moreover, there is uncertainty about the actual extent of the e-toll debt.

Previously SANRAL indicated that it cost R20 billion to implement the e-toll system, but at present, the total debt amounts to R45 936 billion.

The FF Plus will pose questions about this in the Legislature to ensure that the province does not take over incorrect debt.

The FF Plus rejects the solution put forward by the ANC government for scrapping the e-toll system, and will continue to look for a reasonable solution to a system that should never have been implemented in the first place.

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