Proposed port levies – ‘funds must be ring-fenced’
22 Jul 2019 - by Staff reporter
The Agricultural Business Chamber has urged exporters to give careful consideration to the draft National Ports Amendment Bill, published for comment recently.
According to Theo Boshoff, head of Agbiz Legal Intelligence, the bill seeks to give effect to the 'user-pays' principle by allowing the National Ports Authority to raise revenue through levies.
He points out that any export-led growth strategy relies on an efficient port system to facilitate trade. “Sadly, disruptions and an aging infrastructure have hampered this strategy of late.”
Clearly investment in maintenance and infrastructure is key to the optimal functioning of ports, but the complaint from the National Ports Authority (NPA) is that it does not receive sufficient revenue from the national Treasury. “Likewise, funds currently raised through operations at harbours are not ring-fenced for reinvestment into ports but can be used to subsidise other transport infrastructure,” according to Agbiz.
“If the NPA were to be permitted to impose levies on users as the Bill recommends, it may provide the necessary revenue provided that the funds are ring-fenced for maintenance and reinvestment into the port – something which the Bill does not currently make explicit. On the other hand, levies will invariably raise the cost of exporting South African products which may in turn affect our international competitiveness.”
The public has until August 12 to comment.