Mbalula optimistic on outcomes of R1bn taxi relief fund



Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says he is hopeful that government and the taxi industry will find each other through the ongoing discussions in relation to the R1 billion COVID-19 relief fund. 

The Minister said this when he led a debate on the department’s budget vote during a Parliamentary virtual mini-plenary on Tuesday.  

“The R1.135 billion allocation towards the taxi relief support is not compensation for loss of business, but an honest gesture on the part of government to meet the industry halfway.  

“While we have yet to find each other on how this relief support should be disbursed, we remain hopeful that our ongoing discussions will yield outcomes that are beneficial to the industry within the limited resources,” he said. 

Leading the department’s debate on the budget vote, Mbalula said the revised fiscal framework also accounts for substantial revenue losses emanating from the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

He said that lockdown, which came into effect on 26 March this year, has significantly delayed planned programmes, projects and expenditure in the sector. 

As a result, the department, provinces and municipalities, in their revised budget allocations for 2020/21, will show deferred milestones and targets; the impact on their operational revenue and how they intend to mitigate the risk towards desired recovery and achievement of medium- to long-term outcomes. 

“The revision exercise thus focused, amongst others, on downscaling performance targets in the current financial year, particularly where programmes were impacted by budget cuts. 

“The special adjustment budget, which in the main, amounted to a net decrease of R4.6 billion in the department’s 2020/21 budget allocation, proposes adjustments to our budget towards the provision for the rapidly changing economic conditions and enable spending on the COVID-19 response,” Mbalula said. 

He said the adjustments are therefore packaged along two categories. 

“The first category proposes reallocation of funds.  The reallocation is a consequence of the baseline reduction, which resulted in a downward adjustment to the baselines of the PRASA Rolling Stock Renewal Programme to the tune of R1.021 billion; the Provincial Road Maintenance Grant to the tune of R1.756 billion; SA National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) non-toll capital to the tune of R1.096 billion, and the Public Transport Network Grant to the tune of R1.902 billion.  

“The allocation for the Taxi Relief Support to the tune of R1.135 billion is funded from this baseline adjustment.”

Reprioritised budget for PPEs for taxis and buses 

Mbalula said the second category of budget reallocations proposes reprioritisation of funds within the transport budget vote. 

He said to this effect, an amount of R349 million will be shifted across programmes from goods and services, and the Taxi Recapitalisation Programme to fund the shortfalls of the department’s distressed entities.  

“The Cross-Border Road Transport Agency will receive R104 million, the Road Traffic Infringement Agency will receive R200 million and the Railway Safety Regulator will receive R15.8 million.  

“A total of R25 million was also reprioritised for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the public transport industry,” the Minister said. 

The reprioritisation of conditional grants, Mbalula said, will see the Public Transport Operations Grant allocated R6.749 billion for the financial year, of which R337 million is earmarked for the procurement of PPEs for public transport facilities and operations. 

“The Public Transport Network Grant will see a total allocation of R6.446 billion, and up to 15% of this allocation to the tune of R681.5 million is earmarked for the procurement of PPEs for buses and taxis,” said the Minister.