JOHANNESBURG – Electronic Toll Collection (ETC), which has been significantly impacted by the non-payment of Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) e-toll accounts, has lashed out at Western Cape premier Helen Zille’s suggestion that South Africans should consider a tax revolt to curb corruption.
ETC chief executive Coenie Vermaak labelled Zille’s suggestion as a “reckless, knee-jerk reaction” that did not consider the grave long-term ramifications for society and the country.
Vermaak said the implications of a tax revolt were not lost on ETC, which has been the subject of a tax revolt since e-tolling commenced in Gauteng in 2013.
This had resulted in the R22 billion loan the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) had acquired on the open market to fund the first phase of the project ballooning to R45bn and it “continues to mount up”, he said.
“The result of this tax revolt against e-tolling in Gauteng is that taxpayers are now required to pay 200percent more than what they should have."
Vermaak said despite civil disobedience against the e-tolling system, ETC continued to manage and run the busiest road network in sub-Saharan Africa, transfer traffic management skills to 1200 people and service hefty corporate clients, including all major banks and car rental companies.
“Tax revolts never work. They just create pools of debt that taxpayers still have to deal with long after the electioneering and emotional grandstanding are over.
“As we’ve seen with e-tolling, a tax revolt will unlikely ever achieve 100percent compliance, meaning someone, somewhere, will still have to pick up the tab,” he said.
However, Wayne Duvenage, the chief executive of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), previously named Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, said the revolt against the e-toll decision was a justified revolt against a policy that was flawed and Outa also believed Zille was on the wrong track in suggesting a possible mass tax revolt.
Duvenage said Outa had always said the costs of the GFIP would have to be recovered from somewhere and that motorists did not have to pay for them.
He stressed it was never too late to undo a bad decision and for ETC to continue flogging the e-toll option as the right option was wrong.
“All he (Vermaak) is doing, is using this opportunity to attack Zille, who I have also challenged (on a mass tax revolt), and then trying to make out because that is wrong, it’s wrong to revolt against e-tolls.
“Bull****! The government must pull the plug on e-tolls,” he said.
– BUSINESS REPORT