Sanral, Outa clash over e-toll debt listing | Fin24
 
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Sanral, Outa clash over e-toll debt listing

Dec 01 2016 13:11
Liesl Peyper

Cape Town – Civic organisation Outa intends to lay a complaint against National Roads Agency (Sanral) with the Auditor-General for 'misrepresenting' its financial state of affairs. 

In a statement, Ben Theron, Portfolio Transport Director at the Organisation Against Tax Abuse (Outa), says Sanral is falsely representing its debt due to uncollected toll fees as an asset under “outstanding receivables”. Instead, this should be presented as a liability or write-off costs, Theron claims. 

READ: Sanral slammed for over R1.6bn irregular spend

Sanral on the other hand claims Outa’s statement is shortsighted and misguided. 

Responding to Fin24’s questions via email, Sanral's Chief Financial Officer Inge Mulder, said the facts are that the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) requires that public entities such as Sanral collect all revenue due to it. 

“E-toll debt is therefore not a normal commercial debt, due to toll levies being an amount due and payable in terms of legislation. The non-payment of toll therefore remains an offence,” Mulder added.  

“Also note that we have to record our receivables in the manner we have, as we are an agency of government and cannot simply write off debt. Every effort is being made to recover what is due to the state. 

Sanral on Tuesday appeared before Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa). During deliberations, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) David Ross, took issue with the way in which Sanral was reporting on its debt situation, which stands at R7bn.  

Asked what the likelihood is of recovering this debt, Sanral Chairperson Roshan Morar answered that e-toll income levels have “increased slightly in recent months”. 

But Outa claims Morar's response was disingenuous. "This response of a ‘slight increase in e-toll revenue’ was a complete fob-off to the question of Sanral’s likelihood to collect the debt,” Theron says.

“In fact, the slight rise in e-toll income is completely misleading, as Sanral’s monthly e-toll debt increases by over R200m per month,” Theron claims.

READ: Sanral's financial results a misrepresentation - Outa 

Outa maintains that the likelihood of Sanral collecting "even as much as a quarter of the outstanding e-toll debt" is highly unlikely. 

Mulder, however, says the legal process by which Sanral is recovering outstanding debt is “slow”, but will assist in confirming to users that the user pay-principle is here to stay. 

“Debtors who continue to ignore e-toll bills and debt collection efforts have been targeted in a concerted debt recovery plan that started on 1 October – this is in addition to the more than 6 500 summonses that have been prepared for the Sheriff to serve as from April this year.”

Outa will in the near future lodge a complaint with the Auditor-General in the hope that Sanral will be compelled by his office to “amend their financial reporting”. 

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

outa  |  sanral  |  debt collection  |  e-tolls
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