Johannesburg - Government efforts to introduce e-tolling and
a high court order stopping it have raised questions about the state's ability
or willingness to guarantee debt, Business Day reported on Monday.
Efficient Group economist Dawie Roodt said the country's
leadership appeared weak and confused, which could have an adverse impact on
South Africa's image as an investment destination.
"People are prepared to pay for tolls, but with
conditions. The real issue is we are losing face because clearly the politicians
are not in charge here. It's very bad for SA's image," he said.
Financial services group Nomura emerging market economist
Peter Attard Montalto told the publication the struggle to implement e-tolling
would create a precedent that undermined parastatal policy, and managing the
problems would add costs to the fiscus.
Montalto said state would have to use funds meant for other
parastatals to bail out the SA National Roads Agency Limited.
He said the problem was with the R20bn debt incurred by
improving Gauteng's highways
"Consequently, if a payment is missed... the toll-side
debt accelerates. Government would have to then pay around R19bn to finance
that side of Sanral's balance sheet," said Montalto.
If the government had to guarantee the debt, "budget
reserves would be fully consumed at the start of the fiscal year and add yet
another risk to the deficit", he told the newspaper.