20 July 2012
Government and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) met in Johannesburg today, 20 July 2012, to discuss possible solutions to servicing debt associated with the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).
The meeting at COSATU House in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, was part of the ongoing stakeholder consultation by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the GFIP, chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
The Deputy President led a government delegation that included Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, Deputy Minister of Transport Sindisiwe Chikunga, Presidency Director-General Dr Cassius Lubisi, Director-General of Transport George Mahlalela, Director-General of Environmental Affairs Environment Affairs Nosipho Ngcaba and senior officials.
COSATU President Sidumo Dlamini led the COSATU delegation which included First Deputy President Tyotyo James, General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi and a delegation of senior representatives of the trade union federation.
Opening the session, Deputy President Motlanthe said the Inter-Ministerial Committee was undertaking its consultations with open minds and to hear stakeholder concerns that would eventually presented to Cabinet.
“The idea is for us to explore the best possible way of finding a solution to this challenge.”
He said from all the GFIP consultations to date, there was in-principle agreement among stakeholders that the principle of user pay is key; that the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) is an outstanding agency whose creditworthiness has to be sustained, and that in the current economic environment, poor and unemployed people should not be burdened with additional costs.
The COSATU General Secretary welcomed the consultation on behalf of the federation and said COSATU had always insisted that the country was morally obliged to service the debt incurred for the GFIP. COSATU would work with government on ways to do this.
The meeting explored government’s plans to decongest Gauteng freeways and improve public transport, as well as proposals on using vehicle licensing fees, personal and income tax and a fuel levy as means to replace toll fees.
COSATU is of the view that the road network is a public good and that it is inappropriate to toll urban roads.
Government and COSATU agreed to meet again in two weeks’ time to consider a report on options developed by the ANC-COSATU-SACP Alliance for the servicing of GFIP debt.
It was agreed that the Alliance Task Team, which has been studying possible solutions to the problem, would meet again to look at discrepancies between the two reports on the GFIP, and to amend its mandate with a view to consensus on the broader and short-term issues.
At the end of the consultation process the Inter-Ministerial Committee will present a report to Cabinet detailing all proposals by stakeholders. This will inform Cabinet’s decisions on the way forward.
Spokesperson for the Deputy President
Cell: 082 410 8087
National Spokesperson: COSATU
Cell: 082 821 7456
Issued by Government Communications (GCIS) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)