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By Citizen Reporter


R5.7 billion ‘bailout’ for e-tolls hidden in Tito’s budget – DA

The DA says it will urgently submit a parliamentary question to both the ministers of transport and finance to a demand an explanation on the supposed 'bailout'.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament (MP) Manny de Freitas said that after delving into newly appointed Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s maiden medium-term budget, the DA has serious concerns about a supposed R5.7 billion bailout for the failed e-toll system in Gauteng.

Mboweni delivered his maiden medium-term budget in parliament on Wednesday.

In a statement on Friday, de Freitas said: “This money was not declared in the bailout discussion and the DA questions whether dubious accounting practices were used to disguise this bailout.”

According to the DA MP, in the medium-term budget R3 billion was transferred from Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) to Sanral’s non-toll network.

“This R3 billion and an additional R2.7 billion was then moved from Sanral’s non-toll network to the Sanral Gauteng freeway improvement project, informally known as e-tolls,” de Freitas said.

De Freitas said the “bailout” comes after the Auditor General Kimi Makwetu revealed that Sanral is facing a R6 billion funding gap due to their insistence to continue with the failed e-tolls project.

“We believe this is a cunning and disingenuous way in which government is using taxpayer money to fund a system that they are forcing down the throats of Gauteng taxpayers.

“It is especially striking that the R3 billion transferred to the non-toll network went straight into the e-toll piggy bank, this after Minister Mboweni in his speech said that 75% of the national non-toll road network is ‘beyond its design life’. Instead of funding the single failed system in Gauteng, this money can be better spent to upgrade our road network across South Africa,” de Freitas said.

The DA MP added that considering that “Prasa is on its knees, the further defunding of the rail system will be to the detriment of millions of South Africans who depend on trains on a daily basis”.

“The DA will urgently be submitting a parliamentary question to both the ministers of transport [Blade Nzimande] and finance to a demand an explanation. The people of South Africa deserve to know if this is indeed a hidden bailout and demand answers on why the taxpayer must rescue yet another failed government project.”

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