Prasa spends more than R3m on New Age – minister

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) spends more than R3 million subscribing to The New Age newspaper, Transport Minister Ben Martins has said.

“Prasa has a subscription agreement with The New Age media company, which provides Prasa with 3200 copies of the newspaper on a daily basis from Monday to Friday,” Martins said in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

According to the payment schedule for the period from August 2012 to August 2013, the rail company paid a cover price of R3.50 including VAT for 256 publishing days and 3200 copies, at a cost of R2 867 200.

It paid a further 50 cents for 256 publishing days and 3200 copies at a cost of R409 600. This totalled R3 276 800.

Martins was replying to a question from Congress of the People MP Dirk Feldman, who asked whether Prasa had a subscription with The New Age.

Martins also said today the envisaged national transport master plan will include proposals for tolling South African roads.

“The department is in the process of finalising the national transport master plan (Natmap) before it is submitted to Cabinet,” he said.

The Natmap is a long-term plan to roll out infrastructure for the country’s social and economic development.

“The alignment between the Natmap and the National Development Plan, which sets out critical national policy goals to be achieved by 2030, includes implementing the user pay principle in a manner that does not have a crushing effect on the working class and the poor,” said Martins.

Democratic Alliance MP Ian Ollis dismissed Martins’ assertions on the need for e-tolls, saying funding models for a number of key infrastructure investments was “hopelessly wrong“.

“The Sanral misleads us by stating that the road maintenance backlog is about R149 billion, which means that we have to have many new toll roads across the country,” Ollis said.

He said the SA National Roads Agency Ltd’s arguments did not make sense.

“If you look at the annual budget documents supplied by Treasury and the annual audits supplied by the auditor-general, you can clearly see that between 2003 and 2008, an average of more than R21bn was brought in from the fuel levy (per year), while only an average of R7.4bn was spent on the roads,” Ollis said.

He questioned what happened to the rest of the money.

“If you approximate R14bn per annum from 1994, until around 2010, that gives an approximate R238 billion of fuel levy money misused by this government... government spent the money and now pretends that we have to pay tolls to afford our roads,” said Ollis.

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