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Govt has little space to manoeuvre when it comes to e-tolls: economists

Once again, there's much anticipation that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will make an announcement scrapping e-tolls when he delivers his Budget Speech on Wednesday afternoon.

An e-toll gantry. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Economists say government has little space to manoeuvre when it comes to the future of e-tolls.

Once again, there's much anticipation that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will make an announcement scrapping e-tolls when he delivers his Budget Speech on Wednesday afternoon.

Mboweni has always been clear about his position on the future of e-tolls: “Not paying your tolls is not an option. We, therefore, have to ensure that we honour our obligations.”

In March last year, Mboweni even expressed his disappointment in the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral)’s decision to temporarily suspend summonses to recover e-toll debt, saying it must be reversed.

Economist Duma Gqubule believes the best option was for government to bail out Sanral: “One option is for the government to bail out Sanral and take over the debt and the other option is to find some other way of shifting the debt to another entity like a special purpose vehicle.”

Economist Mike Schussler said there was no way motorists would get away without paying in one form or the other.

“Ultimately, I think we’ve come to the end of the road in South Africa where there is no money.”

It's been more than seven years since e-tolls were introduced in Gauteng and both economists said it was time for government to make a final decision on the matter.

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